Prison Slang

Candy and Blood available for purchase on on February 29.
Candy and Blood includes a 40-page glossary of prison terminology!


Sample terms included in the glossary of this book:

bobos — noun: prison-issued tennis shoes. Bobos have a strong rubber smell, are of extremely poor quality, and are incredibly uncomfortable. <I tried running in my bobos, but they hurt my feet too much.> Synonym: fake-ass Converse All Stars

body bag — noun 1. a fitted sheet opened at one end so that it resembles a bag and is designed to slip over a sleeping mat
2. a bag used for carrying a corpse

crank — noun 1. various amphetamine-based illegal drugs such as crystal meth or PCP. It is a reference to the manner in which these substances wind a person up, much like a sinister tinker toy, making rest impossible for many hours.
2. penis. Synonyms: AK, beef stick, beef treat, Big Mac, bone, cable, demo, demonstration, dummy, fuck stick, fun bone, hot rod, jack stick, joint, Kielbasa, meat shank, meat stick, meat treat, piece, pipe, pistol, Polish sausage, pork, pork stick, prick, rod, sausage, sausage link, schmitty, skewer, Slim Jim, sword, Whopper
3. a particularly difficult and petty correctional officer
4. a correctional officer who very strictly adheres to each and every rule no matter how minute, insignificant, or idiotic. Synonyms: Robocop, by the book

eyeball — noun 1. a small plastic mirror
2. a piece of small, plastic mirror that has been cut and shaped to fit through a hole the size of a pen cap, affording an inmate a greater view beyond the locked door of the cell
3. improvised device fashioned from an empty Styrofoam ice cream cup, empty potato chip bag, and an elastic band or piece of string. The chip bag is stretched taut over the mouth of the ice cream cup like the head of a drum with its metallic reflective interior facing out and fastened in place with the elastic band or piece of string. This makeshift mirror may be held outside the bars of one’s cell to see what is happening on the deck.
verb [eyeballs, eyeballed, eyeballing] to look at something or someone. Quite often this is in reference to a lascivious leering look or one filled with emotion, but is not exclusive to that.

Lunchables — noun: facetious designation for the insultingly tiny yellow containers that meals are served in while on lockdown or in Segregation. Synonym: starvation tray

passing time — verb: engaging in homosexual activities while in prison but claiming not to be homosexual. The rationalization employed is that the inmate is merely satisfying sexual urges with a man because there are no women available. Synonym: bitting

put a sheet up — phrase: to hang a bed-sheet as a screen between cellies while one is sitting on the toilet. This modicum of privacy is usually condoned by correctional officers, although it is technically an infraction of the rules because it obstructs the view into the cell.


Candy and Blood available for purchase February 29 on


In Candy and Blood: Essays From Behind Prison Walls, William D. Hastings destroys all illusions about jailhouse life. The essays in this collection are not fictional imaginings, but vivid personal snapshots of the penal system in America as recorded by a man who has been incarcerated since 2003. These gritty glimpses do not serve as an academic exposition of crime and punishment or a theoretical treatise on justice versus injustice, but rather, portray a microcosm of the human condition.

Hastings writes with an intense honesty that is both refreshing and disturbing. Each installment describes uniquely surreal circumstances in which we are introduced to real-life characters who are vividly fleshed out by plainspoken eloquence and crackerjack storytelling. The author skillfully employs an array of literary devices; from one episode to the next, he switches from absurd hyperbole to graphic imagery and metaphors to grim-voiced, graveyard humor. His guileless, self-effacing confessional tone tugs heartstrings at one moment and is laugh-aloud hilarious the next.

The eyewitness narrator pulls no punches as he effortlessly engages the reader. He confronts personal triumphs and failures head-on, but refrains from being self-indulgent. Instead, using articulate and finely tuned phrases, he addresses toxic problems such as bullying and racism in the context of how those all-too-prevalent societal ills are manifested on the wrong side of watchtowers and razor-wire.

This compilation includes a glossary of prison-slang; as you will come to learn, the creative use of language behind prison walls has some truly distinctive elements. Candy and Blood is a stunning eye-opener to the inner workings of penal institutions in a supposedly civilized society. It is a compelling must-read, especially for those campaigners persevering on the front lines in the never-ending struggle for peace and justice.

Ken R. Abell, author of Nightmares of Terror and Pieces of Justice

Prison is a world unto itself with its own unique culture and slang that can be largely confusing for a new inmate. Over a decade ago, William D. Hastings felt like the proverbial fish-out-of-water as he tried to navigate through this new prison world while learning the language of his fresh surroundings. On more than one occasion, he wished there was a dictionary he could consult to make life a little easier and conversations less confusing.

Even though William D. Hastings was new to prison, he had cultivated a love of language his entire life.  As such, Hastings took to learning the slang as a means of survival, but also really enjoyed mentally cataloguing this lexicon that was largely new and quite often confusing to him. Eventually, through years of thorough experience, Hastings became an expert with prison slang. These terms became so second nature to him that they peppered his everyday dialogue—even with his friends and family who had never been to prison and found the slang confusing at best.

Realizing his strangely special circumstances and expert knowledge, William D. Hastings decided to compile a prison slang dictionary. The endeavor began as a bit of a laugh because Hastings figured, at most, he might be able to find a couple hundred terms unique to the inmate. The slang terminology of prison turned out to be much more widespread and diverse than he’d originally thought.

William D. Hastings continues to serve his prison sentence, and his prison slang dictionary continues to grow as he recognizes words and phrases that are commonplace to him, but would be odd or unclear to anyone who has never spent any time behind prison walls. You can see Hastings put some of this prison slang to use as he tells stories of his prison experience at
Available February 29th on

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A Dictionary by William D. Hastings