A Prisoner's Dictionary

The speech of the contemporary criminal culture has always been a rich source of color and vitality to any language. Yet, when one compares the "bawds", "strumpets", "trulls", "cutpurses", "knaves", and "rascals" of Fielding and Smollett to the "hookers," "pimps," "Narcs," "junkies," and "snitches" of today's criminal argot, one wonders just which direction we are traveling on civilization's ladder.

People v. Benton (1978) 77 Cal.App.3d 322, 324.

Language is ever-changing. This is particularly true in prisons, where there is the motion of people coming and going, a culture based on a unique set of circumstances, and the need to speak in words that often carry depths of meaning. There are forms of expression that can never be fully understood by the outside world. There are also words that vary from race to race, prison to prison -- as well as slang that find its way into prisons from the outside. As a result, this list will never be complete, and may contain some words that are obsolete, used in different ways at different prisons, or simply not spoken at a particular institution.

This dictionary contains words dealing with sex or violence, matters that are part of prison culture. Many of the terms relate to specific California procedures -- such as "602s." However, this list has grown to contain words and phrases from prisons in various states. Where known, these are identified in parenthesis. Spanish words similarly are identifed as "Sp."

Please feel free to submit new words to this list or to let us know about any errors. Due to limited time and resources, we are able to update this dictionary only very infrequently. Special thanks to all who have contributed.

Take the Quiz to find out how much you know about prison slang and learn where you stand in the prison system..


4 piece A full set of restraints (cuffs, leg irons, waist, and security cover). (Iowa)

7-up: A correctional officer is approaching. Perhaps derived from the word "6-up" which was originally used to refer to officers coming at 6:00 a.m. to move homeless people from park benches.

10-10 Furlough: Death by un-natural causes, as in "He wronged too many, and got his 10-10 furlough last night"

12:01: Used when a prisoner is discharged. "I got a 12:01 tonight." (LA)

12/12: To serve the entire sentence without parole. The end of a penal term.

13 1/2: The sum total of 12 jurors, one judge, and one half-chance, often featured in tattoos

5-0: Correctional officer. (FL / NC).

38: Masturbation.

114: CDC form documenting reasons for placing a prisoner in administrative segregation.

115: A rules violation report (CDC Form 115) can lead to disciplinary action. It may be classified as either "administrative" or "serious."

128: CDC informational chrono, as in Form 128-G.

187: Marked for death, as in Cal. Penal Code section 187 (murder).

459: Burglary or intrusive behavior, from Cal. Penal Code section 459. As in " Don't 459 my convo."

580: Caution that the authorities are approaching. Normally hand signed, to alert others of potential problems. (TX)

602: The prisoner grievance or administrative appeal process (CDC Form 602). This process provides three formal levels of review, beginning institutional levels and progressing to the Director's review in Sacramento. Although the appeals process provides a means to express complaints, there are many problems with the system and appeals are frequently "lost" at the informal levels of review.

6-5: Correctional officer. Used as a warning when an officer is approaching.

5150: A person needing mental health treatment, based upon the California Welfare and Institutions Code section for civil commitment.. Other states will use different numbers, such as "730" in New York.

911: Warning that a correctional officer is coming.

A - C

AB: Aryan Brotherhood, a white prison gang. This abbreviation can also refer to the California Department of Corrections' administrative bulletins.

AC: Aryan Circle, a white prison gang found in some states. This designation is not seen in California. More commonly in California, this designation would refer to the "Adjustment Center."

Ace: a puff of a cigarette, as in "Bust me down with an ace" (NY)

Ace Boon Coon: Best friend

Ace-Duce: Best friend.

Adjustment Center: The A.C., a segregated control unit. The name was developed during the prisons adopted language reflecting treatment of prisoners. In theory, the unit was to provide an intensive program. In practice, such units remained (and remain) "the hole." A landmark case challenging conditions in San Quentin's Adjustment Center was filed in 1973 and continues to be enforced as a permanent injunction. Toussaint v. McCarthy

Ad Seg: Administrative Segregation. Placement in a controlled unit for the safety and security of the institution -- including allegations of gang affiliation, investigation of a disciplinary offense, or repeated misconduct. May be referred to as "A-Seg" in the federal system.

Aggie: A long handled hoe. (In Texas, field force work squads are referred to as Hoe squads, usually by their squad number such as 1-hoe,2-hoe.)

Aguas: Spanish word used to warn other prisoners thant an officer is making the rounds. Used as a warning in Spanish colonial times and usedd in Mexico as a warning tgo be careful. When water was thrown in the street after being used for cleaning, the person would cry to warn pedestrians.

Ain't Right: A situation, person, or object of dubious correctnessas in "Somethin' ain't right with that Cat-J."

Alphabet: A sentence so long that it cannot be characterized by numbers. (VA)>

All Day: A life sentence, as in "He's doin' all day . . ."

All Day and a Night: Life without parole. (MI)

Ass Betting: Gambling without any funds or means of paying back one's loses.

Ass Out: A prisoner who has does not have anything coming or who has disprespected officers to the point where they do not give him anything.

Attitude:The display of annoyance, hostility, contempt, courage, or an unbroken spirit toward others.

Attitude Adjustment: The need for drugs. Also, a physical act by officers, including use by electric shock (taser, stun gun).

ATW Stands for " all the way " . When a prisoner is finished with his sentence in Maryland the officer that comes to get him to take him to be released will announce for him to "pack it up , ATW." (MD)

AW: Associate Warden. In some western prisons, this may refer to the Aryan Warrior gang.

B & B: Bag and Baggage - to leave prison or jail.

Baby: A weak prisoner used for sex, a "punk." (FL)

Badge: A correctional officer.

Bale: Loose-leafed tobacco purchased at a canteen.

Bam-Bam: The mental health ward or a prisoner who is a mental health patient.(MI)

Banger: A knife. Also called a burner or a shank.

Bar: To fear a certain area or restrict one from an area, such as a cell. As in "You are barred from this side of the yard."

Bastille by the Bay logo Bastille by the Bay: San Quentin, a term coined by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen. Also, the title of a column in the now-defunct San Quentin News

Beast: Sex offender (England), also called a "nonce."

Bean Chute: Slot through which food trays are inserted. Also, slot through which ad seg prisoners are cuffed prior to leaving cell. (TX)

Beat Your Feet: Order by an officer for a prisoner to move out of an area. (TX)

Beef: A disciplinary charge, as to "catch a beef."

Be Farts and Cell Partners: Beans and franks. (archiac)

BGF: The Black Guerrilla Family, an African-American prison gang that originted as a revolutionary organization influenced by George Jackson.

Bid: Prison term. Also called "bit."

Big House: Prison.

Big Jab: Lethal injection. Also, "stainless steel ride," "doctorate in applied chemestry," or the "needle."

Big Bitch: Convicted under the habitual criminal act which carries a mandatory life sentence. See also "Little Bitch." (TX)

Billies: White men.

Bing: Segregation unit. (NY)

Bippy: A small paper cone of cleaning powder used for scrubbing cells. (TX)

Bird: Someone who is a fool or idiot. Also, a prisoner sings like a bird (rat). One who escapes from prison. Young offenders. (Ontario, Can.)

Birds on the Line: Warning that someone is listening to a conversation.

Bitch Up: To cry or give in. (NY)

Blade: A prisonmade weapon, a shank. To "blade up" is to cut someone up.

Blanket party: Throwing a blanket over a despised prisoner, so he or she can't identify an attacker.

Blickey: AIDS, as in "He or she has the blickey."

Blickum: Generic term used as a substitute for other words. As in "He got a 72 hour blickum,: substuting for lockdown. "Jont" may be used in a similar way.

Blind: Area where correctional officers cannot see, as in "Let's go to the blind."

Bling Bling: Officers are coming.

Bit: Prison sentence. (IL)

Bitch Up: Chicken out or be a coward. (FL)

Blazed: To be under the influence, high, or stoned. (Ind.)

Blood In, Blood Out: To enter a prison gang by committing a stabbling, to leave by being the victim of a stabbing.

Blow Up the Spot: To let out a secret. To point out when another prisoner is doing something against the rules. To make a scene. (NY)

Blue Belly: Correctional Officer (Maine)

Blues: Prison clothes.

Boarder: A prisoner. (archiac)

Boat: To transfer out of a prison, as in "on a boat."

Bo-Bos State issued tennis shoes. Shoes that may be bought through a prison commissary (FL).

Bolillos: Whites, perhaps from a term for a large loaf of white bread. (Sp., TX)

Bomb: Paper rolled tightly together that is lit and used to heat items.

Bonaroo: One's best clothes. "I've got my bonaroos all ready for my next visit."

Bone: (2) Cigarette. (NY) (2) The dominant partner in a relationship between prisoners.

Bone Crusher: A particularly large prison weapon (shank).

Boneyard: Family (conjugal) visiting area.

Boof: Contraband concealed in the rectum. Also, "boofed." (NY)

Books: Trust fund account, "on the books." All money received by a prisoner is placed into a trust account and may be withdrawn for canteen purchases, special orders, postage, and other expenses.

Boot Camp: Military style programs used by many states for some first time offenders.

Booty Check: Rectal search.

Border Brothers: Mexican nationals.

Boss: An officer -- some say in it is "sorry son of a bitch" spelled backwards.

Bounce: Move along, get lost. (Iowa)

Bow: Life sentence. (GA)

Bowling Alley Units that have a long and wide cement walkway. Prisoners walk along the yellow lines on the side of the walkway, while officers and staff walk on the inside. (TX)

Box: (1) A carton of cigarettes. (2) Segregation or SHU, as in "I don't want to do any box time." (NY) (3) A quarterly package containing personal items sent from the outside.

BP: Federal grievance forms. Different numerical designations identify the level of the grievance.

Brass: High ranking administration.

Brew: Homemade alcohol; "pruno."

Brick: A carton of cigarettes

Bricks: The outside, on the outside, as in "on the bricks."

[IMAGE]    Broadway: The first floor of some tiers. A wide area where prisoners come and go -- and occasionally may be housed if the prison is particularly crowded.

Buck: Homemade alcohol (Florida).

Buck Horn: Hand rolled cigarette.

Buck Master: One who makes homemade alcohol. See "pruno."

Buck Rodgers Time: A parole date so far into the next century, the prisoners cannot imagine release.

Bug: A crazy person.

Buggin' Out: Going ballastic, losing one's mind, going totally crazy. (SC)

Bug Nasties: The sack lunch given prisoners. (AZ)

Bull: Guard.

Bull Dagging: Homosexual activities between women; taking a homosexual partner. Also, "Bull Dagger," a macho-acting lesbian. See "Dagging."(TX)

Bull Dog: A prisoner who uses fear and intimidation to get something from a weaker person.

Bullet: One year prison sentence..such as "They gave me a bullet."

Bum Beef: To falsely accuse a prisoner of doing some thing. (OR)

Bum Rap: A bad charge.

Bumpin Ya Gums: Talking Excessively.

Bump It On Down: An Order to get moving. (TX)

Bunkie: The person with whom a prisoner shares a double bunk bed.

Burn: (1) Tobacco (England). (2) To write up a disciplinary report. (archaic)

Burn rubber: Exclamation meaning "Get lost," "Leave me alone!"

Burnt Up: To get into trouble or to receive a disciplinary report.

Bush Pass: An escape or walk-away. (TN)

Bus Therapy: The practice of transferring prisoners from one institution to another, to keep them from away from their property, visits, and other contacts. Particularly used in the federal system. Also known as "diesel therapy," "grey goose therapy," or "round robin."

Buster: (1) Disrepect referring to the fact that someone "busted" or swore to a statement upon something of value in the prison culture and was found to have lied. (2) A term for "Northern Mexicans" used by "Southern Mexicans"

Butched In: Having to perform oral sex for favors

C-file: The central file. The critical information maintained on each prisoner.

Cadillac: (1) Coffee with cream & sugar, smooth, rich and creamy. (2) A fish line. (3) A cushion job or enjoyable work on the inside. (4) The best. (5) On officer's term for a vacant cell.

Cap pealed: Someone's head, as in "I'm gonna peal his cap"

Calaboose: Prison or jail (archaic).

Call: Time for specified events -- e.g., mail call or sick call. May be known in some jurisdictions as a call out.

Camp: CDC minimum security facilities for firefighting and conservation work.

Canton: One's cell (SP TX).

Cappin': Talking about one's family, relatives, or girlfriend in a disrespectful way.

Carnal: Homeboy. Street Language. (Sp.)

Case Disciplinary violation, as in "to catch a case." (TX) See also "Beef."

Cap: The amount of marijuana that fits into a chapstick cap.

Catch a Square: To get ready to fight, as "You'd better catch a square, punk." Derives from the corners in a boxing ring.

Catch out: To request protective custody. Move around, leave an area rapidly (TX).

Catcher: Sexually passive or submissive, often victimized

Cat-J: A prisoner who needs mental health treatment. Sometimes referred to as a "J-Cat."

Cat Nap: Relatively short sentence.

Cat Walk: Walkway above yard or tier where officers patrol. Officers in the area, as in "cat walk front to back."

C.C. Consecutive sentences.

Cell Confinement: Disciplinary detention, confining prison to cell for 24 hour increments. (Iowa)

Cell Gangster: One who talks tough locked in his cell. Then says nothing when out of cell (NY). Also known as a "cell warrior" or "cell soldier." (AK)

Cellie: Cellmate.

Chain: Used when a prisoner is transferred to another unit or arrives and departs on the bus. "He left out on the chain yesterday."

Chainin": Used when a prisoner is transferblack to another unit or arrives and departs on the bus. "He went chainin this mornin."

Chalk or Raisin Jack: Home made alcohol, or pruno. (TX)

Chalking: To run interference with officers while another prisoner is breaking a rule.

Chapete: A Southern Mexican word used to disrespect Northern California gang members. (SP)

Chasing the Dragon: Looking for heroin on the yard. Also called, "chasing the horse."

Check In: To be placed into protective custody.

Check Out: To leave protective custody.

Checking: A fight. When it happens in the fields, it is generally sanctioned by officers. When it happens in the building, it is generally testing to see whether someone new is going to ride or to be a punk. See Hoe Check. (TX)

Checkin' It: Putting on one's best clothes for a visit with a prisoner. (NY) Check Off: Someone who asks for protective custody due to debts, or because he is scared.

Cheese Eater: An informer.

Chester: Child molester.

Chin Check: To hit someone in the jaw to see if he will stand up for himself.

Chiva: Heroin (spanish). Also: scam, gow, stuff, hop.

Choney: A chocolate or candy bar. (BC, Can.)

Chuck: A white prisoner or officer. (MI)

Cho-Cho: An ice cream bar bought in the canteen (TX).

Cho Mo: Child Molester. (MT)

Chrono: Informational notes by prison officials documenting classification decisions, minor disciplinary offenses, medical orders, and just about everything else that might be recorded on a prisoner. (CA) Also called "C-note" (UT).

Circuit: Transfers to discourage contact with others. "Diesel Therapy."

Clavo: A stash or collection. "He has a huge clavo of jelly-beans."

Clica: Spanish for gang, also "ganga." Related verb: cliquear, meaning to cock up or ride with a gang. (Sp., TX.)

Click: A group of prisoners who use their combined strength, a clique. When two or more prisoners attack one prisoner. "Those prisoners clicked on me." (TX)

Click up: To join a gang.

Clicks: Minutes on the telephone. (NY)

Clipper Pass: A special shaving pass that allows prisoners with medical conditions to shave only once a week or to wear short beards. (TX)

Coffee and a Day: Out in just over a day.

Dept. of Corrections BadgeC.O.: Correctional Officer.

Commandos: Prisoners who go to another prisoners bunk or cell, after lights out, for sexual reasons. (FL)

Commissary: Money for buying stamps, toiletries, cigarettes, and other items. The place to buy it. Also called "canteen."

Convict: A prisoner with traditional values. One who has pride and respect, who maintains integrity, who is not an informant, whose word is good. A convict is different from an inmate.

Convict Boss: A prisoner given authority in a prison system. Also, an officer who conducts his business and does not hassle or instigate trouble. (TX)

Code 21: Masturbation (TX, from the TDC offense code).

Cop Out: (1) Form that a prisoner must fill out requesting action. (FED) (2) To inform on someone. (3) To place one's self into protective custody.

Copping Deuces: (1)) To contradict one's self, (2) To change one's mind, to the sore displeasure of another.

Corner:"A corner is defined by who a man hangs out with. That's his corner. Lot's of times, even a loner is hooked to a certain corner, so within that you've got `strong corners,' `weak corners,' etc. Once you know all the corners, where they are, and what their guidelines are, then you get an easy feel for the pulse of a prison." -- Dannie Martin, Committing Journalism.

Cross Bar Hilton: Prison (archaic).

Count: The institutional count, repeated at different times in the day. Everything stops while prison staff make sure no one is missing. May be referred to as the "count time." In the federal system, an unscheduled count may be referred to as "census count."

Court: Disciplinary hearing. (Ohio)

Cowboy: New officer. Spelled backwards, its "yobwoc:" young, obnoxious, bastard we often con." (FL)

Crate: Carton of cigarettes.

Crib: Home on the street. (PA)

Crime of Passion: prisoner serving time on a sex time.

Crimey: Best friend or co=defendant.

Cut: Area around a prisoner's bunk, considered to be his territory/area. (GA)

Cut That Knot: Beat up on a prisoner. (TX)

Cutting Up: Suicide.


D-report: Disciplinary report. (WY)

D-Seg: Disciplinary Segregation. (FED)

Daddy: A dominant prisoner who protects or uses a weaker homosexual partner. A homosexual.

Dagging: Trading out for sodomy. (TX)

Date: The release date. Often used with lifers to refer to a date set by the Board of Prison Terms,

Dead: (1) No, as in "That's dead." (2) Deprive of something.  "That officer deaded my rec." (NY)

Dead mouth: Told by an officer to be remain silent until told otherwise instructed. (IN).

Debrief: Prisoners who wish to establish that they are no longer associated with a prison gang must provide information regarding gang activities and pass a polygraph examination. The prisoner must give names and identify criminal activity. This is the only means available to a prisoner to establish that they have left a prison gang and should be released from segregation. Having become an informant, the prisoner must rely on the Department of Corrections to protect them. It is an extremely dangerous pact. Prisoners who are wrongfully identified as gang associates may have nothing to offer in the debriefing process.

In Texas, this process may be known as "Attachment B," referring to the forms filled out by a prisoner delcaring that he has left a gang and to request safekeeping.

Deck: Pack of cigarettes. See also "square." (TX)

Deuce: A two-year sentence.

Deuce Less: The difference between federal time and local time. (Canada)

Deuces: A squad of correctional officers , usally called in to control a riot. "The C.O.'s just dialed the dueces."

Diddler: Child molester. (CT)

Dig this out: "Check this out."

Digger: The segregation unit. (Scotland).

Diaper sniper: Child molester.

Diesel Therapy: Constant transfers to keep a prisoner from associating with others or to discourage particular activity.

Dime: Ten, as in ten years (dime sentence), ten dollars, ten pounds of weights.

Ding Ding Something that is dead or no-more, "That thing is ding-ding, shorty." (MD)

Ding Wing: Where mentally ill prisoners are housed. A mentally ill prisoner may be called a "ding."

Dip the Spot: Leave the area.

Dipping in the Kool Aid: Trying to enter a conversation when a person has no business doing it.

Director's Rules: The regulations of the California Department of Corrections, found in title 15 of the California Code of Regulations.

Dirt Nap: To die.

Dis: Disrespect.

Discharge: Release from prison.

Dog: (1) Homeboy or friend. (2) A prisoner who gives someone up to the authorities. (Australia).

Dog Food: Heroin.

Dog House: Lock up.

Dogs: Shoes. Fee. To beat someone up, as in to "walk the dogs on someone."

Don: Dominant prisoner in a cell.

Donkey Dick: Sliced cold cuts.

Doo Rag: An archaic term for cloth worn on the head of a prisoner. See "Wave Cap." (MI>

Doowop: To go through the food line twice. (GA)

Dope Fiend Move: A sleazy maneuver.

Double Cell: Housing two prisoners in a cell designed for one.

Down: Locked up, as in "This your first time down?"

Down Bad: To accuse wrongly, as "You got me down bad." (LA)

Down Letter: A letter from the parole board notifying a prisoner that more time must be served.

Dragon's Tongue: Slice corned beef, boiled to an unexcelled toughness.

Drama: To cause a disturbance, as "There's gong to be a little drama." (NY)

Draw: Canteen order.

Dressed Out: To be assaulted with urine,feces,or any liquid mixture by a prisoner. See also "gassing."

Drive: To pick on someone to the point of getting angry.  "We drove him about that all night." (LA)

Dry Cell: To put a prisoner on dry watch, without water, when he is suspected of packing contraband (Maine)

Drop a Dime: To inform on someone. "He dropped on dime on his bunkie"

Drug Charge: Child molestation; "He's in on a drug charge, he drug them out of the sandbox. (Iowa)

Drive Up: New officer or prisoner. Can be used as in "just drove up." (TX)

Dry Rat: Prisoner who snitches in front of another person (Maine)

Dry Snitch: (1) prisoners crowding around a fight that draw the officers' attention. (FL) (2) a prisoner who talks about something important to another prisoner in front of an officer.

Dubbed: Locked. As in "he dubbed the door on his cell." (Scotland)

Ducat: Prison passes for movement in the institution. Assignments for jobs, cell changes, sick-call, and other prison programs. Trust fund withdrawals for canteen draws.

Ducat to Chapel: To set a man up for a murder (from a Folsom hit).

Duck: An officer whoe reveals information to the prisoners about other officers.

Duff Out: To beat someone up.

Duffy: State issue, flake tobacco once supplied to California prisoners under the brand name "Bonanza." Coined after former San Quentin warden Clinton Duffy. (archaic)

Due Process: In prison, very little process is due. Under federal constitutional standards, the prison may not even be required to follow its own rules.

Dump Truck: A lawyer who makes an easy deal at the expense of the client

Ear Hustling: Listening to conversations going on over the tier (eavesdropping).

Eight Ball: (1) A prison click. (2) An eight-year term.

Elbow (L-Bow): Life sentence.

Elevator Ride Given a beating in an elevator. (NY)

EME: The Mexican Mafia, a Southern Hispanic prison gang, based on the spanish pronunciation of the letter "m."

E.P.R.D.: Earliest Possible Release Date. A prisoner's release date, assuming that he or she earns credits and stays out of trouble. Computing this date can be difficult since it is based on a complex formula. The prison's computation can be reviewed through the Legal Status Summary Sheet.

Escape Dust: Fog.

Ese: Slang for "guy" or "homie." (TX)

Eyeball: To give a long dispariging look at an officer.

Family Style: Performing sodomy in the "missionary" position,

Featherwood: A peckerwood's woman.

Felon Fodder: Human beings subjected to incarceration.

Fence Parole: Escape.

Figa" Shank. (Sp./MA)

Fifi: An artificial vagina used for masturbation.

Fire on the Line: Officer on the tier or in the area. Also, "Fire on the Walk" (MT) or "Fire in the Hole."

Fish: A new prisoner.

Fish Row: Cells where new prisoners are placed. (MT)

Firma: When someone or someone is "down" or "hard." (Sp.)

Fish Line: A line used to pull items from one cell to another. A "fishing pole" refers to an item used to facilitate this line, such as a rolled up newspaper.

Fishing Kit: A small packet of toiletries, such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, and a toothbrush that are issued to new prisoners in the LA County jail.

Fit: Short for "outfit"--- a home-made contrivance for injecting drugs intravenously

Five-O: An officer. (MI)

Fix: To be given a favor or served with more food than other prisoners. As in, "Fix me up."

Flat Time: To serve one's time without parole.

Flat Wig: To slam, or put to the floor with force. Or, "Flat Weed."(TX)

Flavors: Brand name cigarettes or cigarettes received from outside the canteen.

Flick Up: Take a photo.

Flip Flop: To alternate in performing acts of anal sodomy with a partner, indicating weakness on the part of the dominant prisoner.

Flip the Pad: Turn over one's mattress on assigned days.

Flipping the Script: A person (usually an officer) that acts one way one day and another the next. (KY)

Floor Wet: Call to warn others that officers are coming.

Flop: The time a parole board gives (after denying parole) before a prisoner will be eligible for another parole hearing. As in, "The parole board gave a 10 year flop." (KY)

Fluff: Feminine lesbian.

Food Strike: A group of prisoners that refuse to go to the dining hall to take food, or go there and refuse to eat anything. Unlike a Hunger Strike, prisoners still eat food that was bought or made by them in the units.

Fogline: When the fog is too thick for staff to keep a close watch, fogline will be called and prisoners will be restricted to their cells or unit.

Foo-foo: Deodorant and after-shave, as in "foo-foo'ed back."

Fop Fops: To fight with fists.

Ford: "Found On Run Dead." This started because of a particularly bad doctor named Ford. It grew to mean any generally antagonistic or unhelpful doctor. (TX)

Four Minute Job: Shower.

Front: To act differently when people are in the area. (TX)

Free Pass: Let off by prison staff without making a further report.

Free World: The outside. Also mass made cigarettes - as opposed to hand-rolled.

Fudge Packer: Homosexual. (FL)

Fug: Cigarette.


Gaffle: To handcuff a prisoner.

Gagged: (1) To be shortchanged. (2) To be shown someone's penis. (FL)

Galboy: A person who plays a female role in a homosexual relationship. (old term taken from 1930s Alabama. Aee the Scottsboro Boy Haywood Patterson.

Gang Jacket: Validated as being a gang member.

Gangster: HIV. "Be careful around him.  He got that gangster." See also "Monster."

Gashley: A woman.

Gas House: Public toliet in the cell block

Gassing: Throwing a liquid substance on an officer from a cell. Also called "dashing."

Gas Up: Used by correctional officers to tell a prisoner to get moving. Can also be used as a threat to place a prisoner in lock-up if he or she does not comply, as in "I'll gas you up." (NJ)

Gat: Shank. A prison made knife. (IL)

Gate:(1) Cell door. (PA) (2) Release, as in "30 days to the gate."

Gate Money: The small amount of money given a prisoner upon release.

Gate Time: When the doors to the cell are opened sothat one can get in or out.

Gated Out: To be released from prison.

Gazer: Correctional officer who watches prisoners take a shower.

General Population: The mainline. Prisoners who can mix with other prisoners. Sometimes simply refered to as the "pop."

Germs: Cigarettes.

Get Hit: To receive a longer sentence from the parole board.

Getting Rec: Going to the recreational yard or harming someone for no reason

Getting Buzzed: Tattooed.

G.I.: Gang investigator. (TX)

GI Approved: Identified as being in a gang, or that a particular event is gang-sanctified. (TX)

Gigger Out: Warning that there is a guard coming.

Give A Shot: A disciplinary report or write-up.

Gladiator Fight: Fighting set up for the benefit of others. A gladiator school may refer to a facility that engages in this practice.

GNC List: Got Nothing Coming. Prisoners who have been identified by officers as having nothing coming to them.

Going to the BOSS: The act of being searched by staff using the BOSS chair to perform a body cavity search (NY). Good Lookin' Out: Thanks a lot.

Good Time: Credits earned toward one's sentence. In California, good time (one day for two served) credits are awarded for prisoners in certain situations, such as those who are willing to work but unassigned.

Goof: An insult. A fighting word. A complete idiot who has no pull in the prison. A child molester.(Ontario)

Goon Squad: The security squad that handles special assignments, a task force of officers.

G.P.: General population.

Grapes: Gossip. As in "Give me the grapes on her."

Green: (1) Money or Marijuana as in "I'm getting some green." (2) An inexperienced or young prisoner. A new officer. In some states, any rank below lieutenant will wear a green shirt, and the word may be used to refer to these officers. (3) Prison clothing (NY), referring to the color of the clothing issued by the state.

Green Light: To be a target for death.

Greened Down: To wear the green correctional officer's uniform. (NY)

Greasy: Doing someone wrong, as in "You did me greasy." (VA)

Grey Bar Hotel: Prison.

Grunts: Commissary food items. (IN)

Gump: Homosexual. (VA)

Gun: Razor, shank, or other weapon. (NY)

Gunned Down: To have urine, fesces, or other fluids thrown, see also "gassed."

Gunner: A prisoner who masturbates while looking at a female correctional officer. Gunning (verb), or "gunned down." Also referred to as a "sniper" or "gunslinger."

Gunsel: From the corrupted "gunslinger," a new prisoner who talks tough. (Fed., archaic)

Hack: A correctional officer.

Handle Up (On) Your Business: Fight. (TX)

Hardrock: Hard, tough prisoners. (archaic)

Hard Time: Serving a sentence the difficult way.

Hawged: To have everything taken away. As in, "He hawged you for all your money." (TX)

Hawk: (1) prisoner who watches or stands guard to notify another prisoner when staff is approaching. (NC) (2) A prison weapon, also "shank." (IN)

Head Running: Talking.

Heat: Close surveillance.

Heat Wave: A prisoner who is under constant suspicion and brings that attention to those around him.

Heart: Strong, honorable convictions. "The dude had a lotta heart."

Heart Check: Assigning a prison gang member a hazardous "mission" (such as a murder) to see if he's still down with the gang.

Hemmed Up: To get intro trouble or receive a disciplinary report.

Herb: A weak prisoner.

High Class: Hepatitis C . As in "She's high class!"

High Power: High security unit (L.A.. County Jail). Hit: murder or stabbing.

Hit It: Masturbation or anal sex. (MI)

Hit the Bricks: To be released to the streets. (MI)

Hit a Lick: (1) Come into a good sum of money. (2) To masturbate.

Hit in the Neck Lost, hopeless, having no chance. From the almost always fatal target of a prison knife attack to the neck. Short version: "You're hit". (MI)

Hoe Check: Group beating given to a prisoner to see if he will stand up for himself. Also known as "Check" or "Checking". (TX)

Hog in PrisonHog: (1) A prisoner who is willing to fight, who will not back down. (2) To manipulate another person (boss or prisoner). For example: a new officers may be told by veteran officers to go to a pod and call out your fence cutters for work. "There are some that really do this...get it, a fence cutter." (TX)

Hoof: Hiding contraband in the rectum. As in, "He hoofed it."

Hole: Solitary confinement, segregation, disciplinary detention cells.

Homeboy: Another prisoner from one's hometown or neighborhood. Seth Morgan's book by the same title remains one of the classic pieces of writing about prisoners and prison culture. Homie.

Homes:(1) General greeting or expression used between various prisoners. (2) One's cell. Prisoners returning to the cell may be "going home."

Hooped: Hiding contraband in one's rectum. "He hooped a few pounds of heroin."

Hootch: Homemade (or cellmade) alcohol

Hook Down: A warning that the officer is coming

Hoop: To bring in contraband anally.

Hook-up: (1) An officer has lied or made up a story to get a prisoner in trouble or sent to the hole. (2) A concoction of items bought from the commissary, such as tuna, dried soup, pepper, crackers, etc. (Ohio). (3) To obtain someone's address and phone number.

Hoosegaw: Prison of jail (archaic)

Hot Meds: Controlled medications, including psychotropic medication or anti-depressants.

Hot Rail: When a group of prisoners stah a uard around one particular prisoner and his/her significant other on visiting time so the couple can have sexual relations.

Hot Water: Warning that officer is coming.

House: Cell.

House Tossing: An officer who has taken a prisoner's belongings and tossed them to the floor, perhaps stepping on them.

Hung Up: A prisoner who tries to kill himself by hanging in his cell.

Hyna: Girlfriend. (Sp.)

ICC: Institutional Classification Committee; Interstate Corrections Compact.

Illing: To act up or to go crazy.

Ink: Tattoos.

Ink Slinger: A prisoner who draws tattoos (slinging ink) (AZ)

In My Mouth: Some one is listening in on the conversation. As in "man that hack is all in my mouth."

Inmate: Just another prisoner. It may be a derogatory term to refer to a prisoner who does not have the values of a convict. A new prisoner who does not know the code of the prison system.

Inmate Fund: An account where all the prisoners "official" money is stored and ussed to by commisary items. The Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) is the trust account that is to be used for the benefit of all prisoners (such as renting movies, bying new recreational equipment), and is generally funded through surcharges applied to various purchases and activities.

Inside: Behind the walls.

prisoners In the Car? In The Car: To be in a tight circle of friends, "You're right with me, or, whatever I got, you got." Prisoners who lift weights together.

In the Hat: Targeted for death.

In the old days when convicts wanted to kill someone, usually a stool pigeon, they would make five or six pieces of paper. Only one paper would have his name on it and each convict would draw a piece of paper from a hat or cap. If he got the paper with the name on it,he had to kill the victim. The mystery of it was that no one but the one who drew it knew who got the job. Dannie Martin, In the Hat.

"It ain't no thing": "I''ll take care of it" or "don't worry."

Iron Pile: Weights. Also, "pig iron."

IWF: Inmate Welfare Fund.


Jack: To steal. (LA)

Jack Up: Confrontational "request."

Jacket: Central File. Label. To be marked as a snitch, informant, or other identifying label: "He has a rat jacket."

Jackin' Rec: (1) Wasting time. (El Reno, OK). (2) Ruining someones recreation time by causing a disruption

Jack Mack: Canned makarel sold at the commissary. Sometimes put in a sock to be used as a weapon. (TX)

Jackrabbit Parole: Escaping after serving a long sentence. (Can.)

Jail: (1) A county facility for pretrial detainees or prisoners serving short terms (less than a year). Distinct from prison. (2) Lock up or solitary. (TX)

Jailhouse Lawyer: A prisoner who assist others in filing legal actions. Some are quite knowledgeable, others know enough to get themselves or others into trouble. Jailhouse lawyers are important because most prisoners have limited access to law libraries, little legal knowledge, and there are all too few lawyers able to assist prisoners.

Jailin': (1)Someone who's in the hole (aka in jail). (2)Wives or girlfriends who visit regularly - "That's our lifestyle - jailin!"

"Jailin' was an art from and lifestyle both. The style was walkin' slow, drinkin' plenty of water, and doin' your own time; the art was lightin' cigarettes from wall sockets, playin' the dozens, cuttin' up dream jackpots, and slowin' your metabolism to a crawl, sleepin' twenty-four hours a day. Forget the streets you won't see for years. Lettin' your heart beat the bricks with your body behind bars was hard time. Acceptin' the jailhouse as the only reality was easy time. " -- Seth Morgan, Homeboy.

Jam Up: Ask a prisoner about something.

Jeff: Joke, play

Jigger: (1) Warning of staff approaching. (2) One who watches while illegal act takes place. A lookout person. (TX)

Jitterbug Young, juvenile, troublemaker. Or, "jit." (FL) A prisoner under 21 years-old.

Jody: The anonymous lover taken by a wife or girlfriend. A prisoner whose wife is cheating on him. Also "sancho."

Joes: Cigarettes.

JohnnyL A sandwich in a sack, usually served to prisoners in segregation or lockdown, which may be nothing more than stale bread with a little peanut butter. (TX)

Joint: Prison.

Jolt: A long sentence.

Jones: Drug habit (or any other habit).

Jont: A word that can be used in place of other words or things. From a misspelling of the word "joint." Also, "jiont." As in, "I got framed on that jont."

Joto: Homosexual, punk. (Sp., TX)

Juice Card: Privileges afforded a prisoner based on an officer's favor. As in, "He's on the phone again, must have a juice card."

Julip: Prison-made alcohol, fermented juice. From "mint julip." (TN)

Jug: To verbally harass or provoke, generally done by an officer with the intention of getting the prisoner to fight. (TX)

Jump: Homemade alcohol or pruno. (MD)

Jumping Out: Turning to crime.

Jump the Broom: When one prisoner "marries" another prisoner.

Jump Out Boys: A small team of correctional officers that drives up to an ouside walk way or into a reacreation yard, jumps out of the vehicle, and snatches up one or more offenders for a shakedown or interrogation. Also a small team that quickly enters a cell house and does the same thing. (IN)

June Bug: A prisoner who is considered to be a slave or footman for others.

Kamikaze Move: A hit in front of an officer.

Keep It Real: Don't lie.

Keep locked: Locked up for disciplinary reasons. See also "Red Lock."

Keester: or "Keister." To hide contraband in the rectum. Prisoners keester money, drugs, and even shanks. Also, "Keester Bunny," one who keesters.

Key: Pack of cigarettes. (NY)

Kicking It: (1) Sleeping with someone. (2) Hanging out with a friend.

Kick Rocks: Go away or leave alone.

Kill: To masturbate, as in "I got a picture of my bitch in the world I kill to at night." (TX)

Kit: Items for taking drugs.

Kite: Notes or letters. Any message passed to a prisoner. To "shoot a kite" is to send a message.

Kitestringing: Messages or bags of property sent from cell to cell via homemade string, thread or twine (FL).

Kitty Kitty: Female officers.

Knick-Knack: Same as "lame."

KOP: Keep on Person. Medications that a prisoner is allowed to keep with his or her property, to avoide going to a pill line every day (TX).

K-9 Corrections officer (canine)

L: Life. As in "25 to L."

Lag: A convict; the oppose of "lop."

Lame: Someone who doesn't fit in with a certain click. Also, lop, rudipoop, or rumkin.

Laws: Correctional officers. (TX)

Lay-In: (1) A pass or chrono allowing a sick prisoner not to work. (2) An appointment.

Layng It Down: Robbing anoter person of their goods. As in "I like those shoes lay it down." (Ga)

Laying the Track: Having sex.

Lemac: A camel cigarette. Also, "little man" (archaic).

Let Me Bounce Your Car: Can I borrow your radio?

Lettuce: Prisoners who go out to gang rape.

Life + 1: Life without parole. (MT)

Life on the Installment Plan: Serving an effective life sentence through a series of lesser terms.

Lifer: A prisoner serving a life sentence.

Limbo: Time in jail before trial.

Line: The mainline, or general population, as in "on the line."

Little Bitch: A sentence of fifty or more years. See also "Big Bitch." (TX)

L Note: Life sentence. (VA)

Lockdown: The policy of confining a group of prisoners or an entire prison to cells. This is generally done in response to unrest or emergency -- although some lockdowns are instituted for extended periods of time.

Lock in the Sock: A lock or other heavy object that is put in a sock for use as a weapon. (Can.)

Lock Up Unit: Segregated unit; the adjustment center; disciplinary detention.

Long Ride: Doing life.

Loogan: Mentally ill prisoner. (Ontario, Canada)

LOP: Loss of privileges, a particular kind of cell restriction. (TX)

Lop: A prisoner held in low regard or considered stupid. A fool, chump or sucker.

Lope: An envelope for sending letters, often used as a small unit of exchange. (OR)

Love: "Love is so hard when i just cant touch or hear your voice i can only see your hand writing. i wish i can see your face once again, so much love and hope for your love once again."

Lugged: To be cuffed and taken to segregation.

Luv, Luv Being well off. as in. "living luv,luv."

L.W.O.P.: Life Without Possibility of Parole. ("el-wop")

Go to Page Two

This list is a work in progress and is made possible by all who have sent contributions. Use our form or email your submissions. If the entry is from a specific state or prison, please be sure to include that information with your definition.

1995-2003. The material on this page may be copied for individual and nonprofit institutional use, but may not be distributed in whole or in part to the general public, reprinted, or reposted without permission of the Prison Law Page.