Prison Tattoos and Their Secret Meanings

November 2, 2013 in Art, Body Art, tattoos

The trend for tattoos is not exactly breaking news. In the last couple of years, tatts have gone from somewhat of a fad to a raging, unstoppable pandemic. Whether you get a tattoo to express your individuality, for artistic expression, or just because Bieber got one, there is no denying its popularity.

We recently discovered a much more intriguing side to tattoos and tattoo… prison tattoos and their secret meanings. After this blog they’re probably not going to be as secret any more, but you get the point.  If you know of any that we haven’t included below, please leave us a comment and we’ll add it to this ever-expanding list!

1- A.C.A.B

It stands for “All Cops Are Bastards”. This tattoo is commonly found on the bodies of British Prisoners.


2- The number Of The Beast – 666

This tattoo represents evil. Prisoners who want to showoff their power in prison carve this tattoo.


3- 1488

It is a combination of two numbers, 14 and 88. 14 represents a fourteen worded quote by Nazi leader “David Lane” who said “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children”. The number 88 represents 8th alphabet making 88 as HH. HH is a shorthand of “Heil Hitler”.


4- AB or 12

It symbolized the affiliation to “Aryan Brotherhood”, one of the most dangerous prison gangs.


5- Five Dots

It is a pattern know as “quincunx”. The four outer dots represents four prison walls and the fifth inner dot shows the criminal.


6- Five-Point Crown

This symbol shows affiliation one of the biggest Hispanic gangs in US, “Latin Kings Gang”.


7- La Eme

La Eme means “The M”. This shows the connection with the largest gangs in US – “The Mafia”.


8- MS 13

A person with this tattoo will belong to a 70,000 membered gang “Mara Salvatrucha gang from El Salvador”.


9- Norteño

This shows the association with “Neustra Familia” gang which links to Hispanic gangs in Northern California.


10- Playing Cards

This does not show connection with a gang. A person having this tattoo will be a gambler.


11- SUR 13

A person inked with SUR 13 would be a member of Sureños , a Southern California gang controlled by Mexican Mafia.


12- Teardrop

An inmate with a teardrop right below the corner of the eye would be a murder. Sometimes, a number of such teardrops show that the person has multiple victims.


13- The Clock With No Hands

This tattoo is a representation of long prison sentence. It symbolizes “doing time”.


14- The Cobweb

This tattoo signifies a lengthy term in prison.


15- Three Dots

This tattoo illustrates “gang life style” and its secret meaning is “my crazy life”.


16- Cross on the Chest

In Russia, this is the highest rank which a convict can avail. It symbolizes “Prince Of Thieves”.


17- EWMN

This tattoo is used to show the relegation of some prisoners. It stands for “Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty”.


And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a piece of original art to hang on your walls, check out artFido HERE!

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