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Learn the Lingo

Prison Slang

Big homie:

n. A person with rank or status in a group; a personal mentor in prison.

 

Building channel:

n. The inmate in a building or unit who is in charge of all that happens in that unit.

 

C.O.:

abbr. Correctional Officer; a prison guard charged with watching over inmates.

 

Cat nap:

n. A quick nap, usually while cell doors are locked.

 

Check in:

v. To ask a CO to be placed in SHU to avoid violent reprisals for being hot or having other issues with inmates.

 

Chomo:

n. A child molester; also used to describe inmates with sexual offenses other than rape.

 

Civilian:

n. An inmate who is not affiliated with a group or gang.

 

Hot:

adj. Being cooperative with the government in exchange for privileges or a lesser sentence.

 

K-9:

n. Police or correctional officers.

 

Keep point:

v. To look out for COs while another inmate needs privacy, such as while making a shank or getting a tattoo.  

 

Keister:

v. To hide contraband in one’s rectum.

 

Kite:

n. A message, usually written on a small piece of paper.

 

Let me holler at you:

idiom. Phrase spoken by one inmate to another whose advice he is seeking, or with whom he has a problem to address.

 

Machine:

n. A structured group that works out together.

 

Mainline:

n. The general population housing area of a prison.

 

Move on:

v. To get whacked, with or without weapons.

Ex. Chris got moved on when word got out that he’s a chomo.

 

N.A.:

abbr. New arrival; new inmate in a prison.

 

Piece:

n. An inmate’s personal knife.

Ex. I got my piece on me.

 

Play the ticket:

v. To play a sports ticket; to gamble in prison.

 

Post up:

v. To watch out or stand guard, often while strapped, for an inmate while he is exposed or vulnerable.

Ex. Big V posted up for me while I took a shower.

 

Pruno:

n. Alcohol made by inmates, using fermented fruit and sugar.

 

Put in work:  

v. To do anything necessary for a group, including fighting with or without weapons.

Ex. I had to put in work when I was at the USP.

 

Rep:

n. A representative for a group.

Ex. The rep for the South Siders was a dope fiend.

 

The SHU:

abbr. Segregated Housing Unit; area of a prison reserved for inmates with disciplinary infractions or security issues; also known as the Hole.

 

Shank:

n. A homemade knife.

 

Solid:

adj. A person one can rely and depend on, no matter what.

 

Spread:

n. A makeshift meal put together with various ingredients for a group of inmates.

 

Squad leader:

n. In more structured groups, inmates who are in charge of members for purposes of working out or security.

 

Strapped:

adj. Armed, especially with a shank.

Ex. I’m strapped up right now, so don’t trip.

 

Suited and booted:

adj. Dressed and ready for battle.

 

Take a lap:

v. To take a walk around the yard with an inmate of status to discuss one’s issues or mistakes.

 

Whack:

v. To severely wound or kill another inmate of one’s own race or group, usually with weapons.

 

Wigsplit:

n. A severe beating.

 

Wila:

n. Spanish slang for a message, usually issuing orders and written on a small piece of paper.