A Glossary of Prison Slang

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

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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

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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