The Crazy Maryland Gang Indictment’s Youth Services Connection

In an announcement that made national news, and prompted many a “The Wire really happens!” posts on social media, federal prosecutors indicted 25 people for racketeering related to the operation of the Black Guerrilla Family prison gang.

Thirteen of the 25 indicted were female guards at the Baltimore jail; the indictment alleges that the guards conspired with BGF to sell narcotics in the jail, and that all of them had sex with BGF members.

It is not the first time the violent prison gang has faced a massive federal indictment. The last time, in 2010, federal prosecutors accused BGF of distributing heroin in the city and identified Todd Duncan as the BGF commander for the city.

Duncan and another alleged member, Ronald Scott, were outreach workers for a  Southwest Baltimore-based nonprofit called Communities Organized to Improve Life, better known as COIL. Ironically, the organization briefly held a grant from the city for a major anti-violence

Click here to read Youth Services Insider’s feature story (written during my time at Youth Today) on COIL’s unstable recent history in the city, leading up to its involvement in the 2010 indictment.

A quick news search turned up that Duncan pleaded to racketeering and received 14 years in prison. The federal inmate locator website says that Scott is set to be released in December of 2020.

There is no indication whatsoever that COIL is still around. Which is sad; if you read the story we wrote in 2010, the organization was once a significant part of the cities’ services for families and children.

Click here for a piece from the National Gang Crime Research Center that documents other instances of youth workers who have been accused and/or convicted for gang-related activity in recent years.

This is a significant issue for programs on the front lines of gang intervention and youth violence prevention. Former gang members and other ex-offenders can be extremely effective in reaching youths and adolescents, but obviously not if they are still involved in those activities themselves.

Youth Services Insider is mostly written by Chronicle Editor-in-Chief John Kelly

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1204 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at