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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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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