15 Tattoos Prison Inmates Have And What They Mean?

15 Tattoos Prison Inmates Have And What They Mean?

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The officers in the jails can stay safe just with the right amount of information about the inmates. Sometimes, inmates can tell you their life story and their role in the crime society and prison only by observing and detecting their body art.

Here, we will present to you the 15 tattoos that criminals have and their secret meanings.


This is a number that can be found on white supremacists or Nazi prisoners. The numbers 14 or 88 standing on their own can also be utilized, which can sometimes create confusion.

The number 14 represents 14 words, which are a quote by the Nazi leader named David Lane:

“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.”

The number 88 is an acronym for the 8th letter of the alphabet twice, H.H., which means Heil Hitler. Usually, such tattoos can be found anywhere on the body.

          The cobweb

Cobwebs are usually a symbol of a lengthy term in prison. The symbolism is also connected with spiders trapping prey or even criminals that are caught behind bars. This is a tattoo that is commonly found on the elbow, signifying that the person was sitting around so long with their elbows on the table that a spider made a web on their elbow, even though it can sometimes be located on the neck too.

When the web is multi-colored, it is probably not a prison tattoo, as tattoo artists in jail do not have access to colored ink often.


This is probably one of the most widely recognized prison tattoos, which means that it varies geographically. In some places, this tattoo can mean a lengthy prison sentence, while in others, it signifies that the one who wears it has committed a murder.

If the teardrop is only an outline, it is a symbol of a murder attempt. It can also signify that one of the friends of the inmate has been murdered, and they seek revenge.

Rappers, as well as other celebrities, popularized this tattoo in recent times, but it remains a staple in prisons.

          Five-point crown

This is a symbol of the Latin Kings gang, one of the most prominent Hispanic gangs in the U.S., which is based out of Chicago. The crown is often accompanied by the letters A.L.K.N., which stands for Almighty Latin Kings Nation. The five points are actually because the Latin Kings being an affiliate of the People Nation gang, represented by the number 5.

Latin Kings are hugely present in and out of prison, and their roots go back to the 1940s.

         Three Dots

Three dots tattoo is actually a common prison tattoo, which represents ‘mi Vida Loca’ or my crazy life. This tattoo is not connected to any gang, but to the lifestyle of gangs themselves. It is typically found on the hands or around the eyes.

Also, it can carry some religious importance, like representing the holy trinity of Christianity.

           Five Dots

Such dots differ from the three dots tattoo – five dots represent time spent in prison. It is also known as a quincunx; the four dots on the outside represent walls, while the firth on the inside represents the prisoner.

It can be found internationally in American and European inmates. They can be placed on the hand, between the thumb and forefinger.

On some other parts of the body, five dots can have different meanings, like an association with the People Nation gang.

          The clock with no hands

This is a tattoo that is representative of ‘doing time’ and doing a lot of it. Prisoners that serve a longer sentence might get this tattoo done on the wrist, with watch straps and all, similar to a real watch.

The face of it can be in several forms. Not all clock tattoos are connected with prison, only those with lacking hands.

Aryan Brotherhood

This is a prison gang that has a variety of tattoos, ranging from A.B. to Nazi symbols like a swastika or S.S. bolts. The Aryan Brotherhood makes 1% of the prison population, but they are responsible for 20% of the murders inside the prisons of the U.S., so identifying these tattoos can be extremely beneficial.

These tattoos can also be referred to as Alice Baker, the One-Two, or The Brand.


Norteño tattoos are the ones that represent the Nuestra Familia gang, which is connected with Hispanic gangs in parts of Northern California. Their tattoos include the word Norteño, Nuestra Familia, which is a sombrero symbol, the letter N or the number 14, which symbolized the 14th letter of the alphabet – yes, the letter N.

The Norteños are rivals of the Suerños, which are another Hispanic gang that is based out of Southern California. The Norteños identify themselves with red bandannas and mainly get their income from smuggling, as well as distributing cocaine, heroin, and meth.

             La Eme

La Eme or the M, is a symbol of the Mexican Mafia. They are probably one of the most significant and most ruthless prison gangs in the U.S. Also, they are allied with the Aryan Brotherhood, and they have a common enemy in the Nuestra Familia.

This gang was not started in Mexico, but in the Mexican-Americans that were incarcerated in the American prisons. It is a Sureño gang, which belongs to a large affiliation of Hispanic gangs in Southern California.

              MS 13Prison

The MS 13, which is usually sometimes seen as only MS or 13, is actually a symbol of the Mara Salvatrucha gang that comes from El Salvador. These tattoos can often be found anywhere on the body, but they are most usually found in some better visible places such as the face, neck, or hands.

The gang was started in the Los Angeles area by some immigrants in El Salvador.

Playing cards

Playing cards or generally suits of the deck often indicate an inmate that likes to gamble. This applies to gambling games within and without prison. Also, it can represent a person that generally sees life as a gamble.

This is a top-rated tattoo in Russian prisons, where each deck has a different meaning. For example, a spade represents a thief, clubs represent criminals, and diamonds are reserved for stool pigeons and informants – when the cards have this deck, it was probably applied with force. Hearts imply that someone is looking for love in prison, which can also be forcibly applied.


These four letters stand for Evil, Wicked, Mean, and Nasty. They do not have any particular affiliation with any gang, and they simply represent the general disposition of some prisoners.

They can be typically found on the knuckles and were popularized in 1955 by Robert Mitchum in “The Night of the Hunter.”

              Cross on the chest

Primarily found in the prisons of Russia, chest tattoos can symbolize a Prince of Thieves. This is the highest rank a Russian prisoner can have and are generally worn by a higher-up in the mob.

Russian prisoners also have a unique and intricate history of prison tattoos, each of them with a specific meaning. Another example can be bells which symbolize freedom, or a tiger on the chest, which symbolizes aggression toward the police.


This is an acronym that is commonly found on the bodies of British prisoners, and it stands for All Cops Are Bastards.

Some also claim that A.C.A.B. also stands for Always Carry a Bible, but these are widely believed to be people that regret their tattoo decision. Usually found on the knuckles, the tattoo can symbolize a willingness to go to prison for your crew or gang.

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