A Glossary of Prison Slang

From “Buck Rogers time” (a sentence with a far-future parole date) to “the monster” (HIV)

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Some prison slang:

bo-bos: prison-issued tennis shoes

bone yard: trailers used for conjugal visits

brake fluid: psychiatric meds such as liquid Thorazine

Buck Rogers time: a sentence with parole unimaginably far in the future

chalk: prison moonshine

chin check: to punch an inmate in the jaw to see if he’ll fight back

clavo: (Spanish for “nail”) dangerous contraband

diaper sniper: child molester

diesel therapy: a lengthy bus trip, used as a punishment

ding wing: mental health ward

erasers: chunks of processed chicken

high class: hepatitis C

iron pile: weightlifting equipment

jack book: any magazine with pictures of women

the monster: hiv

ninja turtles: guards dressed in riot gear

robocop: guard who writes up every infraction, no matter how small

six-five: warning that a guard is approaching

stainless-steel ride: lethal injection

13 1/2: 12 jurors, 1 judge, and 1/2 a chance; seen in prison tattoos

The Mojo Prison Guide Menu

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate