Tats, Tacs or Ink, whatever slang term you use to describe tattoos theres one thing you cant get around. Tattoo recognition and interpretation is a valuable tool when dealing with state prison parolees. A convicts ink will tell you three sweet pieces of info about him.Who he is, what hes done and where hes been. Lets first talk about joint tats in general.
Joint ink starts out as one color. Blue. It may turn black or purple according to the sun and the skin pigment but it usually starts out blue. If you see other colors besides blue, or its variations, the tat probably is not a true joint tat. There are two ways of giving a tat. Free hand, which most are, or machine. Free hands a no brainer. You get some ink, usually out of a pen, and you dip a needle, usually a straight pen, and you use the Polynesian method. That is a series of dots to form a picture or word. These tats are crude and sloppy and very noticeable. The second method is the machine. A home made tat machine consists of a slot car motor, a hollowed out ball point pin, some guitar string and a 9 volt battery. Oh ya and the ink. The hollowed out pen is wired or taped to the motor facing away from it. The guitar string is wrapped around the arm of the motor and run through the pen so it sticks out about a 16th of an inch out the end. Hook up a flashlight battery and its tat time. When the battery is hooked up, the motor arm vibrates which moves the guitar string back and forth rapidly in and out of the end of the pen and as long as you keep dipping the end in the ink, you can create a tattoo. Machine ink jobs are more detailed because of the method but also because they are usually done with stencils. Getting caught giving a tat or getting one in the joint is a serious crono. You remember, a 115. A write up. It spreads decease inside the institution.
OK, lets talk about the three things the ink tells you. First of all, who he is. Many times the convict will have his name or street name on him. I have even heard of having ones CDC # put on. Also a loved ones name may help you ID him. What hes done often relates to his crimes. For example if he carries a gun, a picture of the weapon maybe on him. If the gun is pictured from the side this means he carries a gun. If the weapon is pointed outward, this means he is a shooter. Where hes been has to do with the joints he has called home. The ink in relation to the joints hes been in will be landmarks. Landmarks such as walls, gun towers, cell doors or windows and bob wire. Remember to take your time and read the ink.
Lets talk a bit about some common ink you may see and what it means.
Tattoos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and their Meaning
PRISON GANG TATS
Swastika covered with a three leaf clover. In the leaves of the clover are
AB and 666
Dragon attacking a prison gun tower
The new trend with prison gang tats is not to get them because it IDs them as a gang member. Remember to read tats like a book. From left to right and from up to down. Dont just list a few on the face sheet to keep the nasty Sergeant of your leg, take your time and look at them carefully. There are stories within stories. We are seeing more and more Vietnamese parolees getting inked. They seem to like tats that show their birthplace. Like maps of Vietnam on the back. "Vietnamese Pride" under the neck and four dots or Ts which can mean many different things from wealth money and guns to prison. Oriental convicts are not using joint geography like the other groups we have mentioned. OK, remember what the ink says to you, slow down, read it completely and as always, be careful out there.
For more info contact:
Sergeant Ken Whitley,