act right – phrase 1. behaving within acceptable protocols for a given situation, displaying an appropriate amount of deference and respect. See also come correct
2. the act of checking or calling someone on their inappropriate or disrespectful behavior by causing them physical harm

Against the Grain – phrase: this does not necessarily denote an enmity between inmate and C/O, but rather a commitment to bucking authority and a mindset to oppose said authority especially when it comes to standing with fellow convicts. This means no colluding, cooperating, or snitching

agua – noun 1. the Spanish word for water
2. an exclamation sometimes used as a warning that a C/O is coming. Rather than yelling out something as obvious and obtrusive as “C/O coming!” a lookout may holler “agua,” and then their compatriots will know to cease all illicit activity until the coast is once again clear
verb: often yelled as a request for someone to flush the toilet while they’re defecating rather than letting the feces float there until they’ve finished their business. See also put some water on it

altered – verb: any item that was issued by prison staff or properly acquired on commissary but then modified or changed in some significant way. Any altered items are considered contraband, though are mostly ignored.

armory – noun 1. room where all shackles, handcuffs, and other restraints are stored as well as the radios used for communication and the firearms used during the transport of inmates for writs. These items are checked in and out by officers as they are needed or assigned
2. room where there is a central controller and dispatcher to announce when count has cleared, relay messages between officers over the radios, and direct C/Os to the proper area if a fight is in progress and an officer needs assistance. See also control

Arsenio Wall – noun: the wall. Meaning all an individual has to look at for entertainment is the wall. See also Brickolodeon

NEW! ass out – phrase: to be ass out is to have fallen on hard times or bad luck, to have overextended oneself and gone into debt

ATG – phrase: Against the Grain

baby – noun 1. an infant or young child
2. a woman who an inmate finds especially attractive, often a celebrity See also girl

baby girl – noun: one’s own female child

baby raper – noun: child molester. See also chester, chomo, diaper sniper

back down – phrase 1. Meaning to go home after completing a prison sentence and to go right back to previous behavior, often felonious
2. going right back to the same housing unit or deck after a stint in Seg

back up off me – phrase: a warning to give the speaker some personal space. Most often heard in the preamble bravado before a fight See also fall back

baller – noun 1. a very rich person
2. one who uses their extreme wealth to lavish excess with gaudy jewelry, souped-up cars, and designer threads

banger – noun 1. Slang term for a handgun. See also heater
2. improvised device for heating water. See also heater, stinger, pistol

bangin’ – verb: Shorthand for gang bangin’
adjective 1. extremely bad breath. See also kickin’
2. extremely good music See also kickin’

be about it – phrase: meant to put an end to all woofing and threats. Basically calls for the aggressor in an argument or confrontation to essential put up or shut up – to start fighting or stop talking

beat feet – phrase: imperative instruction urging another person to go away. See also kick rocks

beat the breaks off – phrase 1. the threat of a harsh beating
2. describes a serious physical altercation where an individual got severely assaulted and trounced See also beatdown, slammed

beatdown – noun 1. a violent fight, usually involving multiple attackers against one person
2. a violent thorough fight that is grossly one-sided See also slammed

beef – noun 1. A problem, issue, or disagreement you have with someone
2. animosity
3. a type of meat rarely offered in prison

been down – phrase: refers to the amount of time someone has been locked up on their current bit see also been gone

been gone – phrase: references how long a person has been incarcerated. Usually reserved for referring to more lengthy periods, but not necessarily. see also been down

been one – phrase  1. signifies the ending of something, the conclusion of a matter or conversation  
2. refers to the completion of one’s prison sentence

behind the wall – phrase 1. A maximum security prison where movement outside the cell is limited to an hour or two per day, sometimes less. Showers and laundry may be allowed only 2-4 times a week and lockdowns are frequent
2. Specifically, time spent in a maximum security facility when the gangs were still mostly in control and violence was rampant. Used in this fashion, it is a kind of badge of honor and lets people know that you’ve seen and lived through some particularly hellish things
bit – noun: prison sentence

blade – noun: a knife. See also shank, shiv

block – noun: cell block. See also deck, gallery

blues – noun 1. state-issued uniform for inmates; it consists of dark blue pants made from thin, coarse material and a light blue button-up short sleeve shirt. See also prison blues, state blues
2. a general feeling of melancholy and malaise that comes and goes at varying times, to differing degrees
3. several shades of the color blue

board – noun: parole board

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

bogus – adjective 1. An illegal item
2. anything poorly constructed
3. anything done poorly or less than satisfactorily
4. an action or deed which is characterized as wrong, disrespectful, or inappropriate
5. a person who does something wrong, disrespectful or inappropriate

book – noun: a bound published manuscript, either softcover or hardcover, which can come in many styles, genres and are written on many topics. These can be used either to pass time and enrich the mind or as improvised weights to work out with.
verb: to book or be booked, when a person is caught doing something that is an infraction of the rules and they’re written up for it

books – noun 1. Inmate Trust Fund, account of an inmate’s money, which is monitored and controlled by the prison business office. This is accessed through commissary purchases mostly, but with the proper authorization form an inmate can send money home or use it for mail order book purchases and magazine subscriptions
2. plural of book

bowl – noun 1. a pipe used for smoking marijuana
2. a concave dish used for holding food while eating.

box – verb: to fight, boxing
noun 1. property box, hard plastic container with a sliding lid whose approximate dimensions are four feet in length, three feet in width, and one foot in height. All personal property such as food and clothes must fit in the property box
2. what inmates live out of
3. correspondence box, hard plastic container with a sliding lid whose approximate dimensions are two feet in length, one foot in width, one foot in height. Only letters, books, and various paperwork are allowed to be stored here.

box is low – phrase: meaning that there aren’t many supplies remaining in an individual’s property box

boy – noun: friend, buddy. See also guy, man, homey

NEW! bracelets – noun: handcuffs

Brickolodeon – noun: the wall. It means that with no TV to entertain, all a person can do is stare at the wall. See also Arsenio Wall

NEW! Bruce Lees – noun: cheap, canvas shoes with thin, rubber soles. These are prison-issued footwear in some joints. They slip on the foot and almost resemble slippers, but are similar in appearance to the shoes Bruce Lee wore in some of his films. They aren’t particularly comfortable, and provide less than adequate protection from the elements.

bubble – noun: area where officer runs building operations and controls electronic lock cell doors as well as cell house doors. Only a few feet above ground level, its name comes from the glass walls which enable the C/O to observe inmate movements on the gallery but remain secure from inmate attacks <What C/O we got running the bubble tonight?>

buck wild – phrase 1. meaning to be extremely gregarious and indulging in copious amounts of partying and sexual activity
2. engaging in illegal activities recklessly and without thought of discretion or taking any measures to avoid detection

bug – noun 1: an individual who, whether due to a legitimate mental health issue or brought on by extended incarceration, exhibits manic, off-kilter, questionable behavior such as: mood swings, inability to focus or finish a conversation, intense discussions carried on solely with one’s self, random unexplained outbursts of speech and emotion, excessive exaggerated smiling
2: a cellie or other individual whose mind and habits have been warped to OCD degrees of focus and fanaticism, usually by lengthy confinement, and as a result insists on cleaning their miniscule living area to extreme excess multiple times a day, becoming irate or inconsolable over the tiniest of hygienic infractions
3: a crazy person

bus – noun 1. transfer bus
2. the transportation for inmates between prisons which involves the shackling and handcuffing together of up to sixty inmates. A trip that very few people look forward to or enjoy

by the book – phrase: a C/O who adheres to all the rules and regulations of an institution with the zeal of a religious fanatic See also crank, robocop

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Essays From Behind Prison Walls

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