Convict Glossary, Part Deux

Until I started this glossary in my last post, I had no idea I had learned so much in my 3 years at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. My vocabulary has expanded to the point of needing a second posting, and that's just the PG version.

So, here are even more terms.

* Cop Out: The Bureau of Prisons has a "Request To Staff" form that is used to communicate with staff. It's called a Cop Out. However, nobody knows why it's called that, as it's not used to avoid or cop-out of responsibility. When I asked an officer who's been here 30 years for an explanation, the reply was, "It's just a BOP term. It's like 'banging in' only different."

* Banging In: This means not showing up for work, as in "That officer ain't here today. He's banging in."

* Jigger: This is a personal look-out. For example, the bathroom chefs always post a jigger in the hall to make sure their cooking is not deterred by the officer on duty. To provide this service is to "run jigger."

* Behind The Fence: This might also be called "behind the wire" and refers to a higher security prison. This is often heard as, "You don't know nothing about being down, as you ain't never been behind the fence." While it's true I ain't never been behind the fence, I would take exception with the assertion I don't know nothing about being down.

* Down: This simply means serving time in prison. Aptly put, I've been down 3 years.

* Caught Up In a Trick Bag: This describes a potentially troublesome situation occurring when an innocent inmate becomes collateral damage in someone else's mischief. No inmate who abides by the rules wants to get caught up in a trick bag.

* Hem Him Up: When an inmate does this, he gets in someone's face. For example, when I was working in food service, an inmate took the serving spoon out of the syrupy red beets and was about to put it into the yellow potato salad that I had made. Who does that? So I had to hem him up.

* On Paper: Most federal felony sentences include a period of incarceration followed by a term of supervised release or probation. That probation period is called being on paper.

* Burning Paper: When on probation, it's possible to violate the terms of probation, go back to prison for a short stay and eliminate the balance of probation, effectively burning paper. Several inmates have returned here after violating probation, served 6 months and burned years of probation. They were quite proud of themselves for using this quirk in the criminal justice system while eliminating the certainty of failing mandatory drug tests while on probation.

* Find The Tile: This is one my favorites. Inmates find the tile when they go to the bathroom to fight. Fighting will automatically get an inmate removed from a camp, so it hardly ever happens. In fact I've never seen anyone fight in the bathroom, but finding the tile is still threatened occasionally.

* Let's Go Lace Up: This is another term for fighting which stresses the importance of making sure the fighters have put on their steel toed boots. So if this fight ever happens here, the fighters would first go lace up their boots and then find the bathroom tile. Obviously, that's a cognitive sequence of 2 seemingly unrelated actions that could prove to be problematic for some of our more burntup inmates. It might also explain why we seldom have fights.

Hopefully these terms will be helpful to use at work, social events or religious gatherings. I know I've been in many church business meetings when I wished I had just banged in because I seemed to be caught up in a trick bag. Invariably, before the meeting was over, I wanted to go find the tile or at least hem someone up.