By: Mary Ann Cozza
Maryanne Denner, coordinator and advisor in the College of Public Service, is a former prison guard sergeant with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and an expert on prison gangs. Because of her experience, she often serves as a subject expert for local media reporting on gang crimes. Over the last several years, she has even been featured several times on the History Channel’s hit TV show “Gangland,” a documentary that uncovers the history of America’s most notorious gangs.
“One of the show’s early episodes was about the Texas Syndicate (TS), one of Texas’ deadliest gangs, and I was interviewed as an expert on gangs in the Texas prison system with knowledge of TS,” Denner said.
During the episode, Denner recounts how the TS gang would recruit new members, explains the five gang codes members live by and describes first meeting a future gang “chairman” or leader.
Denner was featured in two subsequent “Gangland” episodes, one about the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and another about Tango Blast, a collection of mostly Hispanic gang members in the Texas prison system. Watch Denner in Season 2: Episode 4 “Texas Terror,” Season 4: Episode 7 “Aryan Terror,” and Season 5: Episode 12 “Deadly Blast.”
“My experience as a prison guard has helped me a lot at UHD,” Denner said. “I am able to do a lot of public speaking at high schools and I’m known as the “gang lady,” which is pretty cool. Students know me and hear about my experience and they want to come to UHD because of that.”