Gangs: March 2017 Listening List

This listening list about gangs was curated by Sara DaSilva, coordinator of the PBC-Houston chapter and founder of Audible Feast, a fantastic podcast review site and newsletter.

This month, the Podcast Brunch Club picks are intended to educate us about the reasons people join gangs, their motivation for staying in them, and how they can impact a community. Due to a code of secrecy within a gang and the threat of violence if that trust is broken, stories of life on the inside can be scarce, and even unbelievable at times. Gangs are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, given the connection to and prevalence of drugs and class disparity, so let’s learn a little about why they continue to exist and draw more members into the fold.

Listening List about Gangs:

Embedded: The Capital
(33 minutes, April 2016) NPR reporter Kelly McEvers visits San Salvador, where gangs completely control the city and much of the entire country of El Salvador. In 2016 the gangs sent word to the locals that no one should take the bus, and if they did, they risked being shot. You may be gripped with fear hearing McEvers narrate an evening visit to a location where a bus driver was just killed by gangs.

American Radioworks/APM Reports: Gangster Confidential
(52 min, April 2008) Rene Enriquez is a former high ranking Mexican Mafia gang member who has served significant time in the California penitentiary system. He decided to leave the Mexican Mafia – hear his story about why he risked his life to become an informant. Click here to find out whether Enriquez was granted parole in 2016.

Justice Hope Freedom Podcast:  Episode 003: Interview with an Ex-Pimp, Ex-Gang Member, and Ex-Prostitute
(21 minutes, June 2016) In this podcast which centers around sex crimes, ex-gang member Raymond Grant discusses the thought process that continued to draw him to the lifestyle.  Then he shares how he turned a corner and decided he wanted to help deter others from participating in gangs.

Conversation Starters about Gang Listening List:

  • Can gang members truly be rehabilitated?
  • In the Justice Hope Freedom Podcast, Raymond Grant talks about how women are easier to con than men when he discusses his role as a pimp. Do you think this is true and if so, why? Do you think female gangsters and madams believe this to be true also?
  • What role do you think drugs play in the attraction and retention of gang members? Are there gangs where drugs are not a central issue?
  • Discuss the “elite warrior” brainwashing technique from Gangster Confidential – does this exist anywhere else in society?
  • What characteristics would allow a leader to rise to power in a gang?
  • What are the different ways gangs are controlled in prisons, other than sending inmates to the SHU/isolation?
  • What parallels are there between gangs and cults?
  • How do gangs not implode, given the internal conflict and constant fight for power?
  • Rene Enriquez is a lifelong gang member and drug addict. Should law enforcement have trusted him to be an informant? Do you think he just wanted to get out of the SHU and that’s why he “switched sides?”
  • In Embedded, Kelly McEvers goes to one of the most dangerous places on earth. How do you think civilians not involved in gangs survive? What must be different about their life mentality and how does it affect their goals?
  • Is the violence perpetrated by gangs in El Salvador similar to any other places in the world?
  • Should other countries’ governments or law enforcement provide resources to help fight gangs in third world countries, given that the violence may spread to more privileged countries?

DJ RuggedAngel’s Music Playlist

We’re adding a new feature this month. Our fabulous Pittsburgh chapter leader, Kahmeela Adams, has put together a musical playlist to go with our podcast playlist. You’ll hear tracks ranging from West Side Story to Ice-T. Check it out!




  1. Jennifer L Cisneros

    Love, love, love the music playlist!

  2. Jennifer L Cisneros

    Love, love, love the added playlists!

  3. I didn’t realize that the Latin Kings were such a big thing in Chicago!

    The playlist rocks1

    • Adela (Podcast Brunch Club)

      Glad you liked it! And, yes….the Latin Kings were huge in Chicago. I remember a lot of kids I went to high school were somehow involved with them….and that was in the burbs!!!

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