Background On Gang Initiations

Neither street gangs nor prison gangs invented initiation rites as a requirement to belong to the gang but they certainly have expanded the initiation requirements to belong to the gang.

Initiation definition: 1)A rite, ceremony, or instructions with which one is made a member of a sect or society, or is vested with a particular function or status; 2) the condition of being initiated into some experience or sphere of activity.

Initiations have probably been a part of culture ever since man began organizing groups and there were those who wanted to join. There are clubs, organizations and secret societies all over the world that require the prospective member to go through some form of initiation. An initiation may be something as simple as learning a set of rules and regulations and then reciting them in front of the membership. Or at the opposite end of the spectrum, the initiation may require the individual to endure some hardship that will cause pain.

Gangs use the initiation rite as a means of determining if the inductee is mentally and physically strong enough to be worthy of membership. In other words they want members who have "heart" and who will run at the first sign of trouble.

Gang members frequently refer to joining a gang as "Blood in - Blood out" - This is particularly true of prison gangs.  "Blood in" requires the prospective member to shed the blood of someone by assaulting them or murdering them.  "Blood out" refers to the only way a member can leave the gang - either by his natural death or his death at the hands of the gang.

The "Blood in" requirement serves two purposes.  Prison gangs, not wanting law enforcement agencies to try and infiltrate the gang by placing an informant or undercover agent in the group, generally require a prospective member to murder or seriously assault someone in the prison. This "assures" the leadership that the individual's loyalty to the gang is legitimate. Theoretically, if a gang member has killed someone, or is aware of acts of violence committed by the gang, he will not reveal this fact to the authorities.

Street gangs use a variety of acts of initiation to induct an individual into full membership.

These acts may include one or more of the following:

  • "Beat in" or "jump in" - The inductee must prove him/her self by enduring a severe beating by a pre-determined number of members for a pre-determined number of minutes. During this act the members use fists, kicks and stomps, or even clubs to beat the new member. This is frequently called an "act of love." It is also, in many cases, an act of extreme violence. The new member at best may survive with broken ribs, cuts and contusions or maybe a broken jaw. However the beating can be so severe that the person could suffer permanent injury or even death.

      Other Forms of Initiation

    • Armed robbery - inductee(s) commit the crime of armed robbery and frequently shoot the victim(s) for no reason.
    • Drive-by shooting
    • Assault on an innocent victim
    • Rape an innocent victim
    • Blessed In - Occasionally, a prospective gang member will not have to endure any of the normal gang initiation rituals.  He or she may be "blessed in."  This may be the result of the prospects reputation as one who is worthy of gang membership or he may be a family member of a gang member who has vouched for his worthiness and loyalty.
    • "Sex in" - Female inductees are frequently "sexed in" by having intercourse with multiple members of the gang. This is sometimes used in lieu of being beaten in. It has been reported that females, on occasion, have been required to consent to sex with a person known to be HIV positive.
    • Murder - The inductee is required to kill an innocent victim, a rival gang member, or even a police officer.
    • Beat-in - Also known as "jumped-in", "walk the line", "ranked-in" and possibly others, is the most common type of initiation.  The prospective gang member is beaten by a pre-determined number of gang members for a period of time.  The time can range from a few seconds to a few minutes.  This type of initiation has been known to result in the death of the individual who was beaten.

    Leaving The Street Gang

    Getting out of a gang can be as violent as joining. Many gangs require lifetime memberships.

    Many street gangs require the person, wanting to depart from the gangs way of life, to endure a "beat out." This beating frequently is more severe and more injurious to the member than the beating he/she may have taken to join.

    Leaving The Prison Gang - Blood in - Blood out

    To join most prison gangs, a prospect must shed someone's blood (blood in). This frequently involves the murder of a rival gang member.  Most prison gang members are expected to remain members for life. Even if released from prison they are expected to remain loyal to the incarcerated members by providing support to them, by whatever means, usually through the proceeds of drug sales and/or other street crimes. The penalty for "quitting" the gang is death; In other words "Blood out."


Frequently, I receive questions concerning initiations. I also receive Email messages warning or advising me of a "new" initiation being performed by gang members on other persons.

To view a list of some of these hoaxes and legends, CLICK HERE to jump to our HOAXES AND URBAN LEGENDS page.


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Robert Walker

This page was last updated on 03/14/2014

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