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Categories: Japanese Tattoo Designs | Author: admin 17.11.2015

Prison tattoos are usually worn by members of various prison gangs for whom these body arts carry important symbolic meanings.
Check out the images of prison tattoos presented in this site to get an idea of how they look like.
A few generations ago, most tattoos were viewed as potential gang tattoos – whether or not they were actually gang related. In other words, though most people didn't have the skill to identify symbols, it was more or less taken for granted that tattoos were connected to a criminal underworld. A lot of gang members have one or more teardrop tattoos under their eyes, especially if they've spend time in jail.
For the average person, it is unlikely that you will encounter gang tattoos at a close enough range to try and identify them. Japanese gang tattoos (which usually identify members of the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia) take the form of simple black rings around the arm – one ring for each major crime a gang member has committed.
Usually though, tattoos of Yakuza members are very elaborate and detailed, going from sleeve to full body tattoos.
Hispanic and Mexican gang tattoos vary a lot, because they relate to the numerous specific gangs.
Most gang and prison tattoos have fuzzy, unsteady lines compared to those of professional tattoos. Gangsta tattoos are getting mainstream nowadays, because they are idealized and popularized by rappers. With tattoos dating back to age 13, this inmate was working toward a “full shirt” of tattoos — chest, back and arms fully tattooed.


This 24-year-old inmate got his small teardrop tattoo at age 15 and says it means “somebody’s mother doesn’t have a son anymore.” The dragon and demon emerging from slits rendered in his chest (left and right) are common prison tattoos and generally represent the wearer’s evil nature breaking out and causing harm.
Lightning bolts on one side of this man’s neck and “Thank God I’m White” on the other clearly announce his racist beliefs formed, he says, during his 15 years in California prisons. This inmate had a reclining figure tattooed on his chest so that “no matter how old or ugly I got, I’d still have a good-looking woman next to me.” The portrait is of one of his five ex-wives. If a person having a particular prison tattoo gets arrested, then he or she will be protected by the other gang members present in the prison. That’s because tattooing was relatively uncommon among the mainstream public, and having a tattoo almost automatically meant that you had some sort of criminal association. The similarity with tribal tattooing is quite strong – there, too, tribe members got additional tattoos in recognition of deeds they had done. Just like gang tattoos, they form a secret language that pictures all kinds of information about the wearer, such as hierarchy, commited crimes, etc. When gang or ghetto tattoos are taken out of their context (the gang) they are not the real thing anymore.
Prison-made tattoos are a form of communication for inmates, and telling each other about gang affiliations, prison status, family bonds, and spiritual beliefs.
The Harley-Davidson Evolution motorcycle commemorates the beloved, customized bike his ex-wife sold in their divorce. Other tattoos include the names of his children, opium poppies, the years of his three prison terms, prison walls and bars, him “dreaming about my old lady” and his favorite tattoo — “In Memory of Mac and Annie,” his grandparents. The crude cross and chain were applied while this inmate was incarcerated at the old Idaho State Penitentiary (which closed in 1973), and the same image was worn by all members of his prison clique.


Alternatively, if that person is not a true gang member and only a poser, his or her tattoo symbol will be destroyed or burnt off the skin. There are still tattoo designs that are specific to the different ethnic gangs that operate in the major cities. They indicate for example what status a member has in the group or what a prisoner is in for.
Alternatively, a small five pointed star can be found on the hand, between the thumb and first finger. The ink used in Russian prisons for example was made with melted shoe soles, mixed with urine and blood. In the California prisons, he used to trade “a cap of weed” for a tattoo, and crooked guards would bring in bottles of ink. Gang and prison tattoos have more in common with traditional tribal tattoos than they do with modern decorative body art: they are designed to mark an individual as a member of a group, as well as being an indication of status. The Surenos, a well known Latin gang from Mexico is known to operate from Southern California. Other tattoos worn by this gang include the letter M, EME, MM, X3, XIII, 213 and Tres Puntos. The Aryan Brotherhood tattoo or AB is worn by a group of Neo-Nazi white men who have a strong faith in the ideas and beliefs of Hitler.



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