Unspeakable Times

Common Prison Tattoos and What They Mean

Prison tattoos. What do they mean? Though not technically legal, prison tattooing is a tradition that transcends race, nationality, or affiliation. 

Prison tattoos are usually applied with crude, homemade needles and ink made from contraband pens or other materials. As such, they're often green or blue, with little color or variation in tone. But what prison tattoos lack in beauty, they make up for in story. The tattoos a prisoner wears tells a personal story, indicates what gang they're affiliated with, where they're from, and what they did. Some simply indicate a disrespect for authority, others in prison show that the wearer is a member of the Mexican Mafia or Aryan Brotherhood and is not to be messed with.

Looking for prison tattoo meanings? Here are some of the most common prison tattoo designs created by convicts, each with their own meaning and story.

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