jail art by CraneStation on flickr
jail art by CraneStation on flickr
For information about a new release book titled This Side of my Struggle, that has three Frog Gravy essays in it, go here.
Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.
Frog Gravy has graphic language.
This post is not comprehensive. One could probably write an entire book on prison inventions, slang and situations, particularly if the setting is in the South, where colloquialisms are priceless.
Jail and prison terms, divided into categories and used in sentences, followed by explanations:
Pheening, jonesing, popping the socket, striker, squares, break ‘em down, smokin’ the bible, phone card, posting up, who’s on the camera
Inmate 1: Bitch. These Camel Menthol Wides. You can break ‘em down and get thirty for twenty squares, and get an extra phone card. I’m pheening for a cigarette right now.
Inmate 2: You ain’t alone. I been jonesing all day for one. Loan me your striker so we can pop the socket and get this done.
Inmate 1: While you’re rolling the bible I’ll post up and watch the hallway. Who’s on camera.?
Inmate 2. It don’t make no damn difference. Ain’t no cameras in the cell.
Two inmates crave a cigarette. They plan to remove the tobacco from a Camel Menthol ‘Wide’ cigarette and roll it into a page from the bible. They also plan to sell some of the rest of the harvested tobacco for phone time. One inmate will stand watch, because cigarettes and smoking are not allowed. A striker is a paper clip, that is placed across the prongs of the TV plug-in to create a spark so that the inmates can light the cigarette.
Conflict resolution statement
bitches got me fucked up, got me bent, skanky, clitty litter, ho, clock out, beat the breaks off her, you feel me, set her face apart
Inmate 1: These bitches got me fucked up with somebody else. Motherfuckers got me bent. Let another bitch call me a skanky clitty litter ho. I’ll clock out and beat the breaks off her. I’ll set that bitch’s face apart.
Inmate 2: I know that’s right.
Inmate 1: You feel me?
Inmate 2: Slap the taste right out that bitch’s dicksucker!
Inmate 1: Bitch ain’t got no mutherfuckin’ teeth. Taste is all she got left to slap out. I got this.
Inmate 2: Peace up. A-town down.
Inmate 1: I know that’s right.
Someone has insulted inmate 1 by commenting on her body odor and calling her a whore. Inmate 1 tells inmate 2 that the person delivering the insult must have mixed her up with somebody who will not fight back, and that if it happens again, Inmate 1 will physically beat up the offending inmate. Inmate 1 solicits agreement from Inmate 2. Inmate 2 agrees and they part ways. A-town is an endearing slang term for Atlanta, a city that some consider to be a pretty cool place. ‘Dicksucker’ is a common prison/jail slang term for mouth.
My public pretender is about as useless as a cat with side pockets .He ain’t got sense enough to pound sand down a rat hole.
Inmate comments that her court-appointed attorney is not doing any meaningful work in her case.
Inmate 1: Earlier at work in the kitchen I was sweatin’ like a whore in church, but now it’s colder than a well-digger’s ass and a banker’s heart. Can we tell the guard to put the heat on?
Inmate 2: That guard couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel.
Inmate 1: Heh. Yeah. Plus, she’s uglier than the east end of a horse headed west. She’s so ugly you’d have to hang a pork chop around her neck to get a dog to play with her.
Two inmates return to the cell from work in the kitchen and find the cell to be cold. They decide that it is unlikely that the guard, who is very unattractive, will put the heat on in the cell.
Request for transfer to another cell
off the chain, drop a note, vet, crazy slip
Inmate 1: This cell is off the chain. I’m gonna drop a note to the vet for a suicide cell.
Inmate 2: The vet won’t do nuthin.’ Better drop a crazy slip.
Inmate 1 tells Inmate 2 that she wants to transfer to an isolation suicide watch cell because of the chaotic atmosphere in the current cell. She wants to submit a request to the medical department. Inmate 2 tells Inmate 1 to submit a request to the mental health department because the medical department will ignore the request.
How to make paint and makeup in a jail that bans everything except certain types of religious materials
Joyce Meyers magazines are the most versatile for manufacturing jailhouse makeup for court appearances and for adding color to pictures that inmates draw for their families.
-Find the color you want.
-Rub a tissue onto stick deodorant, and then rub the magazine color. The ink will transfer to the tissue.
-Use less ink for subtle makeup, and more ink for pictures.
-Canteen Fireballs make cheek color when nothing else is available if you are really pale from never having recreation in the outdoor cage. Substitute red M and Ms if you do not have Fireballs.
- No-shank pen ink on a toothbrush can is sometimes used for mascara.
-No-shank pen ink cut with water is sometimes used for eyeliner.
-Menstrual pads are sometimes used for earplugs, eye coverings, and for the manufacture of tampons, which are not allowed in jail.
-Toothpaste is the most versatile substance in the cell, and it is most commonly used to affix photographs to the wall.
-paper scraps and toilet paper scraps mixed with water can be used to make dice, dominoes and chess pieces.
-‘Homemade’ tampons can be used (Remember: I’m just the messenger here) for hair rollers.
-Jail-issue underpants, wrapped just right, look like a do-rag.
-Elastic threads from socks make hair ties.
Ways to communicate with the cell next door
-Pick up the phone and tap on the wall. Some inmates tap codes on the wall.
-Talking under the door is common.
-Some report that you can flush the water out of the plumbing pipes, and talk through the pipes or tap on the plumbing.
-‘Fish’ things back and forth by running a cable cord with something attached under the door.
Being paraded into court on a chain gang
Here in McCracken County, when you are in jail and you have a court appearance, you are handcuffed and chained to other inmates. The chain gang is paraded across the street and into the courtroom like an orange outlaw centipede, and this goes for people who have not been convicted of anything.
Once in court, you are all seated together, and the court-appointed lawyer says something like, “Your Honor, my client, Mr. He-Sure-Looks-Like-A-Guilty-Criminal is here today, on the line.” The lawyer won’t turn to face you or look you in the eye. he simply waves his thumb in your general direction. Anybody in the passing public can swing by and see what you look like, on a chain gang.
McCracken bends over backward to be insensitive about who you are chained to. A friend of mine in jail was chained up with the man who beat her toddler son to death while she was at work one day.
How to make paint in a jail that has colored pencils
-Shave some of the lead and crush it.
-Put the lead into a bottle cap with a drop of water.
-Microwave 30 seconds.
-Stir in a couple of drops of shampoo with an empty lip gloss applicator, and apply the paint with the applicator.