Prison Tattoos & Art CD-ROM
includes shipping & handling

Contents: 100 tattoo images with definitions on each image     example 1     example 2

  • 21 examples of prison gang art - no definitions

  • 22 examples of prison art - no definitions

  • 7 images of prison tattoo machines 

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Tats, Tacs or Ink, whatever slang term you use to describe tattoos there’s one thing you can’t get around. Tattoo recognition and interpretation is a valuable tool when dealing with state prison parolees. A convict’s ink will tell you three sweet pieces of info about him.Who he is, what he’s done and where he’s 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 it’s 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 one’s CDC # put on. Also a loved ones name may help you ID him. What he’s 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 he’s been has to do with the joints he has called home. The ink in relation to the joints he’s 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

Clock faces without hands
Tombstones with numbers on them
Tombstones with numbers and RIP
Spider or cob webs on elbows or shoulders
Eight balls
One laughing face, one crying face
Viking themes
Granite block walls
100 % pure
Cell window with sun or bird showing
Face of female crying
Prison block wall with bricks falling outward
  Doing time
The years they were inside
Mourning the death of a friend
Doing time
Behind the eight ball or bad luck
Play now, pay later or my happy life, my sad life
Supreme white power
White pride ( males )
White pride ( females )
Common Caucasian tat
Time in Old Folsom Prison
Pure white or anglo
Waiting to get outPrison
Pure white or anglo
Waiting to get out
Has someone on the outside waiting
Inside wanting to get out



Mexican Mafia:

Eagle with snake in it’s mouth sitting on the letters EME.
A black hand.
“ EME “
A black hand with the letters EME in the palm." Mafia Mexicana "
“ MM “



Nuestra Familia:

NF “
“ NS “
A sombrero covering a machete dripping blood

Aryan Brotherhood:

Swastika covered with a three leaf clover. In the leaves of the clover are “ AB “ and “ 666 “
“ SWP “
100 % pure
“ AB “
“ Peckerwood “
Picture of a bluebird

Black Guerrilla Family:

Dragon attacking a prison gun tower
Two hands chained over a rifle and a sword crossed
“ BGF “


The new trend with prison gang tats is not to get them because it ID’s them as a gang member. Remember to read tats like a book. From left to right and from up to down. Don’t 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 T’s 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,
P.O. BOX 2623
Corona, CA 92878-2623
or e-mail


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