Finding gang symbols hidden in inmates’ art

A single case study that provides lessons in thinking outside of the box


"Is this guy a threat?" This was the question that officers at a nearby facility asked me after confiscating occult-related drawings from an inmate’s living area during a recent search. They wanted to know if the inmate could be part of a satanic cult. If so, could that make him a potential threat to the safety and security of officers and the facility? Did the artist “know what he was doing” or was he “just drawing pictures?” These are great questions, so I started digging for answers.

One of the more intriguing drawings (Illustration 1) that they sent to me was this:

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