Communication is the key to managing offenders. An area we would like to focus on is the use of Spanish terms. Officers are sometimes at a disadvantage when their unit of assignment has a vast number of Spanish-speaking offenders. The information that is provided in this lesson is only a brief overview of common terms and phrases that Spanish-speaking offenders use. Learning some of these terms and phrases may facilitate the communication process with these offenders.
Another very important aspect of offender management is being able to communicate with the offenders. Correctional employees should be aware of the vocabulary unique to this environment. There are words and phrases that are peculiar to the vocabulary and terminology of prison offenders. This block of instruction is also designed to familiarize the employee with prison slang (to include Spanish words). You will be able to recognize these words and terms and know what they mean. Although it will be very helpful for you to know and understand prison slang, this block of instruction is not designed for the employee to adopt these words and phrases as part of their own vocabulary.
Identify Spanish terms, phrases, and slang words.
2. Identify prison slang words, terms and phrases.
Have you ever been in a situation where you had trouble understanding a non-English speaker's attempt at speaking English? It is frustrating when you cannot comprehend what someone is trying to say; therefore, from the very start, you will learn how the Spanish sound system works. Although perfect pronunciation is not necessary to communicate, we will begin with tips on how to communicate as clearly as possible.
One of the keys to effective Spanish pronunciation is using the correct vowel sounds. Take note that the normal sounds are always pronounced as follows:
Similar to sounds
Vowel Pronunciation In English
A ah father
E eh elementary
I ee me
O oh orange
U oo do
In addition to learning about vowels and their sounds, learning the alphabet will assist in being able to pronounce Spanish words. Communicating in Spanish can be quite easy if you master the alphabet.
Letter / Pronunciation Letter / Pronunciation
a ah m EH-meh
b beh n EH-neh
c seh ñ EH-nyeh
ch chech o oh
d deh p pe
e eh q koo
f EH-feh r EH-reh
y heh rr Eh-rreh
h AH-cheh s EH-she
i ee t teh
j HOH-tah u oo
k kah v veh
l EH-leh w doh-bleh-VEH
ll EH-yeh x Eh-kees
Remember, learning the vowels and their similar sounds to the English words that were provided will assist you in being able to recite the alphabet.
Reciting the alphabet is fun; try your luck at it you may surprise yourself! Now let's review some common terms used in our everyday Spanish language:
Common Spanish Words Common English Words
Bueno Good or Okay
Common Spanish Greetings Common English Greetings
Buenos Días Good Morning
Buenas Tardes Good Afternoon
Buenas Noches Good Evening
Hasta Luego So Long
Qué tal How's it going?
Spanish Words/Phrases English Words/Phrases
Uno momento One moment
No Comprendo I don't understand
No Sé I don't know
Necesito I need
Por favor Please
Lo Síento I'm sorry
Perdón Excuse me
Common Spanish phrases used in the prison environment:
Spanish Phrase English Phrase
oye tu Hey you
sientaté Sit down
sientate aqui Sit here
silencío Be quiet.
ven aquí Come here.
¿adónde vas? Where are you going?
deja de pelear Stop fighting.
suelatalo Put it down/Let him go/Let it go.
pon tus manos detras de tú espalda Place your hands behind your back
dame tus manos Give me your hands
ven conmigo Come with me.
ponté de pie allá Stand over there
parate aqui Stand here
parate Stand up
esperate squi Wait here
ve para tú casa Go to your house.
como té llamas What is your name?
qué es tú numero What is your number?
dame tu tarjeta de identificacíon Give me your ID card
dame to ID Give me your ID
pon tus mános en las pared Put your hands on the wall.
acuestaté Lay down.
cerra la puerta Close the door.
encaja tu propiedad Pack your property.
regresa Get back
para de resistir Stop resisting
No te resistas Don’t resist
ve para la clase Go to class.
¿dónde esta tu casa? Where is your house?
¿dónde vives? Where do you live?
dame tu ropa Give me your clothes
volteate turn around
vacia tu bolsas Empty your pockets
levanta los brazos Lift your arms
separa los peas Separate your feet
hincate Kneel down
4. There are five common words an officer will use during an investigation of an incident:
Spanish Word English Word
Finally, offenders quite often communicate with slang words:
Slang Term English Term/Phase
Ese báto guy
stoolie when you tell on someone
gavachó white person
carnal brother/home boy
clavo a stash/collection
Esta Calmado it's cool/ calm
Ponte trucha be alert
Un niquel five-year sentence
B. Prison Slang - an insight to the slang terminology that offenders use:
Slang Word Common Word Slang Word Common Word
Boss Officer Newby New Officer
Five O Officer Aggie Farm Hoe
Fishing Throw A Line Trick Prostitute
Thieves Offenders Laws Gray Shirt
Woods White Boys Killing Offender Masturbating
Kite Letter Snitch To inform
Jacked Refuse to comply Homeboy Individual from with orders same hometown
Electricians Instigators Journeyman Instigators
Deuce 2-yr sentence Nickel 5-yr sentence
Dime 10-yr sentence Shitter Solitary Confinement
Chow Food Pisser Solitary Confinement
Cutting Up Suicide Meditation Solitary Confinement
Monster HIV Drive-Up First timer
Bean Chute Tray slot Road Dog Friend
Yo-Yo Weed Cutter Buck Refuse
U.A. Urinalysis Hack Prison Guard
Herb Weak offender Cheese eater Informer
Bull Dyke Lesbian Cutting heads Fighting
Dis Disrespect Stole Stole My Cool
Banger Knife Stud Aggressive Homo
Police/Robo Cop Officer Case Offense report
Bogus Made-up/Not real
Phrases or Terms
Chunking – To throw liquid substance, food, urine, and feces
Dress Up – To chunk on an officer
Jacked – Refused to comply with orders
Homeboy – Individual from same hometown
Snitch – Giving information to employees concerning other offenders
Daddy / Wolf – Taking the male role
Short – Close to release date
House – Cell or Dormitory
Shank / Spike – Some kind of knife or sharp pointed weapon
Chain – Group of offenders arriving or departing
Chalk / Raisin Jack – Home made alcoholic beverage
Johnny– Sack lunch
Hot Johnny – Hot meal served in the field
Good Johnny – A good meal
Bad Johnny – A bad meal
Bullet – One-year prison sentence
On the One – Honest (George Washington, who was known never to lie, is on the one-dollar bill)
Split your wig– A quick punch to the head
In the Car – In on the “deal”
Lay it Down – Cease working/Surrender
White Money – Currency with the institution
Homie – Person from hometown
New Boot – New officer
Drive-Up – First timer
Chain Bag – Orange/Red mesh sack
Catch the Wall – Stand facing the wall
Offender’s House – Cell/bunk/cubicle
Bump it Up – Move up in a line
Bump it Down – Move over/Keep walking
Head Running – Talking too much
Punk Slap – Slap an offender
Catch a Pair/Deuce it Up – Walk in two column
Pencil Whipped – To be written up by an officer
Cold Lick – Done you wrong
Turn Out – Go to work, chow, recreation etc
Locked up – Placed in Pre-hearing detention
Tripping – Losing your cool or control/getting mad
Work Buck – Refusal to start work
Slow Buck – Working slow
All Swole – Upset, pouting, hurt feelings, etc.
Turned out – sexually assaulted
Let Slide – Give him a break
Cool It – Forget about it
Blow it Off – Settle down and take it easy
Click Up – To join a Gang
Deck – Pack of cigarettes
Fish – A new inmate
Keister – To hide something in the anal cavity
Mule – A person who smuggles drugs into the institution
N.G. – "No Good" (meaning he’s a rat, he talks too much)
Stick – Marijuana cigarette
Ace Boon Coon/ Ace- Duce– Best Friend, Buddy, "Homie"
Badge – Guard, Correctional Officer
Beef – Disciplinary charge, problem. To "catch a beef", "I gots a beef wit you"
Blind – Area where correctional officers cannot see, as in "let’s go to the blind"
Bonaroo – One’s best clothes
Brick – A carton of cigarettes
Cap – The amount of marijuana that fits into a chap stick cap
Moe – Married homosexual in prison
Catch out – Move around, leave an area rapidly
Stool Pigeon – Giving information to employees concerning other offenders
Wreck/Switch – Getting into trouble with offenders or employees
Hogged – Forced by other offenders
Lookout – Expression to get attention, as in hey you
Jigger – Warning/staff approaching
Snap – Intelligence, realization or getting the point
Stacked - Two or more sentences which run consecutive
CC – Two or more sentences served as one
Cut Me Up – Look me up
Fell from – County or city where convicted
Bum Rap – Unjust conviction or charge
Fall Partners – Two or more offenders convicted for same offense
Writ Writer – Offender who writes writs concerning his sentence
Jail House Lawyer – Offenders who assist others in writ writing
Set/Put Off – Parole date set back
Serve All – Parole denied, offender must serve all his sentence
Short – Close to release date
Free World – World outside prison
Tank or Wing – Cell block or dormitory
All Day – A life sentence, as in "He’s doing’ all day"
Let Me Bounce Your Car - Can I borrow your radio?
Nut Up – Go crazy, become enraged
Phones off the Hook – The Guard is listening
Press Your Bunk Punk – Lay down on your bed and shut up
The offenders are working the fields and one of them asks for an Aggie (slang word) for _______ ______.
An offender is being transported to another unit and will miss lunch so he requests his Johnny (slang word) for _____ _____.
The English slang word for letter is ______.
An officer has to question a Spanish-speaking offender that was involved in an incident. Five Spanish words that will be used to retrieve the information are: ______, _______, ______, ______ and ______.
The Spanish slang word used to identify an officer is _______.
Remember that as a correctional employee it is important that we be able to communicate effectively with offenders. Good communication enhances the understanding for all parties involved. We must be familiar with and respect the various cultures within our prison communities. This familiarization and understanding gives us the ability to more effectively manage and control our correctional institutions and those incarcerated within them.