Five felons Keepin' it Real: It's money…Cliques not gangs


Sergeant Maudessie Jointer at another seminar in 2013

Five felons in their twenties "kept it real" thanks to Chicago Police Sergeant Maudessie Jointer*, 11th District, at a CAPS 12th District "Keepin' It Real" seminar about gangs and drugs, Wednesday night, in St. Mary's Nazareth Family Center, 1127 N. Oakley. 

Money was the main reason the men said they went into gangs and once in "you never get out." The older guys, in their thirties and beyond "do the paper work. They know how to take care of things," said one of the men. 

The" family" structure of the gangs does not exist any more. Now you find rival gang members working together in cliques. "It is all about the money." 

If two members of the same gang are in opposing cliques, they think nothing of taking-on or taking-out their fellow members. 

With determination to kill another gang banger, some will resort to killing a family member, knowing that their target will show up at the funeral. 

Illustrating how a vendetta can last for years, Jointer told the story of an older gang member who declared he was out of the gangs and had turned his life around. 

One day, with his son in the car, he ran into someone from his past. He thought he recognized him, but told him that he didn't remember him. He told him how he was out of the gang and going straight. The stranger pulled out a gun, shot the son and said, "guess you'll remember me next time." 

Family versus business
In the past the youngest guys sold drugs or stole items, bringing in the money. Those in the structures above them "got a piece of the income." This explains how Jeff Fort lived in a mansion. 

There were consequences within the gang for not following the wishes of those above. There were rewards for doing what they were supposed to do, according to their leaders. 

The structure was like a family, with the younger boys having respect for those who were older. 

Now that structure does not exist. It is a business. In the business, one needs to recruit to move up in the "corporate world." 

When asked how they would do that, they shared various techniques. One is to give a kid money, repeatedly. At one point, they have him do something [a job]. 

The younger kids respect their recruiters and think that they will do anything for them. If they get in trouble, however, they generally find out their "mentor" doesn't care and won't help him. 

Some said they might help him, if he showed real potential as a leader. For the most part, they said that they can continue on by replacing him with one of several others that they have been grooming. 

There was commonality around the education of the five. While some got their General Educational Development (GED) and some are in college, they all had initially dropped out of high school.

However, Jointer pointed out that there are prisoners who have college degrees, even advanced degrees that are in the Safer Foundation program. 

These five young men, for the most part, had gotten into gangs through their family. They looked up to them, respected them, because they had money, drugs, women, cars and/or "they were cool." 

They admitted that what the kids thought was not reality in many cases. For example, they were/are not making as much money as they thought.

The information they shared was very similar to what others have said in other sessions, such as in 2013.

Most had parents who were in a gang, on drugs, in jail and/or died. Some were looking to be cared about, loved. They all wanted attention. 

Now most of the five men have kids. They expressed concerns about their welfare and realize that they could be in harms way, but then…that is life. 

"It all starts at home," says Jointer. "Parents say that their son or daughter is not in a gang or that they had no idea. They think it does not touch them. But, in fact, if their kid is in a gang, they too are in the gang." 

She emphasized that people have to get involved with kids early and the age of kids in gangs gets younger and younger. The prisoners said that you have to start dealing with kids when they are four and five. 

Furthermore, they said, if a kid confronts you, give them what they want because they will think nothing of using a knife or gun. 

When asked about girls in gangs, Jointer said that they are just like boys. But, she said, they have an advantage. People don't think that a girl will behave like a boy, they tend to trust them more. 

She went on to say that CeaseFire has success with female gang bangers. Some of their leaders are former female gang members. 

Asked by several audience members about what can the public do to help, they did not give much in the way of helping people out of their world, including themselves. They did encourage people to deal with kids at a very young age. 

It was clear that they had no positive role models when they were young. They had no ideas about alternative life styles for themselves. They did not know the possibilities for the statement, "I want to _______ when I grow up."

Jointer began this educational program in February 2002, rather by accident. She was asked to talk to a bunch of kids about the police department. "I hated kids and they were talking badly about the police department and how cops were fat and ate donuts," she explained. "They made me mad." Since they were acting like tough guys, she thought she would give them a dose of reality. 

Their attitudes changed when they realized that she had taken them in a jail. The next day a parent called and wanted to get this "program" into the school. She hung up on the parent, saying there was no program. 

Her commander learned about this and told her that she was to take this "program" to the school, despite the fact that she kept assuring him there was no "program." 

Thus, she created "the program." Soon she began partnering with the Safer Foundation. The men she works with are housed in a Safer Foundation facility in the 3000 West block of Arthington. Jointer said that they have the best GED program in the state with the highest scores of those going through it.

To qualify for being housed in the Safer program, inmates must be in the last two years of their incarceration time. Their sentence must be for one of the lower level crimes where a fire arm was not involved in such offenses as theft, drugs or driving under the influence. 

The men volunteer to speak to the public and they receive no payment or other consideration for taking their free time to participate. 

The Safer Foundation, founded more than 40 years ago, focuses on reducing recidivism by providing services to help prisoners increase their education, develop new skills, get a job and become law biding members of local communities.  

A prisoner's initial entrance into a Foundation facility is a 30-day program. They are put through training such as anger management, parenting skills, budgeting and many more subjects. They learn skills and work.

*Jointer is only nine months from retirement, though she says that she will continue with this type of work through the 3rd District's CAPS office. That is the area where she lives.



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