Glossary of Prison Terms




Prison has its own language. To help you better understand, I’ve put together this glossary of prison terms.


5-0 (pronounced “five-oh”) – slang. a C/O, corrections officer

Binky – (n.) homemade prison syringe

Bitch – (n.)  A derogatory word used to degrade or belittle someone. The meaning varies depending on the context in which its used. This word is more of a fighting word…meaning, if someone is called a “bitch” they’re usually fighting within seconds.

Call Out – (n.) A daily bulletin posted for all inmates to see. This bulletin consist of the time and place in which inmates are to report. (ie. work, school, medical, property room, religious activities, etc.)

Cat call – (v.) inmate heckling, usually of either a C/O or undesirable inmates

Cell In – (v.) A term used as a directive by staff when telling inmates to go in their cell. “CELL IN NOW MISTER!!!”

Cell time – (n.) time alone in your cell

Celly – (n.) someone who shares the cell; a roommate

Chain – (n.) a group of inmates chained together for transport who arrive at a prison

Check in – (v.) to volunteer to be secluded into Protective Custody

Chi Mo – (abbrev.) slang. child molester

C/O – (abbrev.) Corrections Officer, also “cop” or “pig”

Count – (v.) A time when the facility counts the inmates. Everyone has to “cell in” for count.

CUS – (abbrev.) Custody Unit Supervisor. A high ranking official in charge of living units. (Lieutenant status)

Day Room – (n.) A huge living room where games and socializing takes place. SCCC day rooms consist of 26 tables, 104 seats, a microwave, 8 phones, ice machine, hot water dispenser (180°), and its where the “Call outs” are posted.

Dry cell – (n.) prison cell with no sink or toilet inside the cell

Dry snitch – (v.) snitching without directly snitching; drawing attention to the infraction in a roundabout way

Duck – (n.) a new inmate off the chain; many “waddle” from keistering contraband

Fellas – (n.) a group of solid guys who all get along and respect each other

Hole – (n.) short-term segregation (normally 30-60 days or less)

House – (n.) one’s prison cell

IMU – (n. abbrev.) Intensive Management Unit, long-term segregation

Indigent – An inmate who has less than $10 on his books for 30 days or longer is considered to be “indigent.” Indigent inmates can purchase indigent items as they rack up an indigent debt. NOTE: Indigent items are generic, no name brand items.

Ish – (abbrev.) slang. issue

Keep point – (v.) to watch or be on the lookout for a guard; military lingo

Keister – (v.) to hide something inside your rectum

Kite – (n.) document with an inmate request or question to a staff member; snitches may “drop a kite” to snitch in writing

Lame – (n.) someone who is not a “fella” but also is not a sex offender or a rat

Mainline – (n.) general population, also mealtime or dining hall

Mean Mugging – (v.) to look at someone with an angry expression on your face

One time – (n.) a guard

Paperwork – (n.) a statement of ones criminal history

PC – (abbrev.) Protective Custody

Piece of Shit – (n.) someone who isn’t solid; lowest in the prison hierarchy

Porter – (n.) one hired to do routine cleaning

Pruno – (n.) prison wine, made from decaying oranges, apples, potatoes, etc.

Punk – (n.) someone who performs sexual acts for little or no profit

Rape-o – (n.) slang. A rapist

Re-cop – (v.) replenish the drug supply

Running Store – (v.) to front items from commissary for a profit

Segregation – (n.) 24/7 lockdown

Shakedown – (v.) A thorough search of mass proportion

Shank – (n.) homemade weapon used for stabbing

Shotcallers – (n.) anyone who wields power and influence in prison. Usually the drug dealers, but can be anyone with a service in demand and a lot of charisma

Solid – (adj.) used to describe someone who isn’t a piece of shit

SO – (abbrev.) sex offender

SOS – (abbrev.) slang. Smash on Site

Street to Street – (v.) one inmate’s family or friends sending money to another inmate’s family or friends with no direct inmate involvement

Swine – (n.) pejorative term for prison guard; like calling a policeman a “pig”

Torpedo – (n.) someone hired or assigned to carry out an assault

UA – (n.) urine analysis. A piss test.

Wet cell – (n.) prison cell with a stainless steel sink and toilet inside the cell

Weirdo – (n.) a rat, a sex offender, or someone with some kind of dirty history

Yahoo – (n.) someone who is always running their mouth about others

Yard – (n.) An outdoor recreational area



  1. great now I understand my man when he is talking to me. Sometimes I think he forgets I don’t know what he is talking about.


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