“Run away as far as possible if you see someone with these tattoos.”

“This tattoo is one of the most well-known designs in the prison world and can have various meanings, but generally, it signifies that an inmate with a tear tattoo under their eye is either serving a long prison sentence or has already committed murder. The tear symbolizes sorrow here, indicating that the inmate shed tears for the mother of someone who was killed. This tattoo can also mean that the inmate attempted murder or that a friend of the inmate was murdered, and they seek revenge. Overall, a tear filled with ink signifies that the prisoner has committed at least one crime, and additionally, another tear is added for each murder.”

And although tattooing is now a mundane act, tattoos were initially the prerogative of a minority, of individuals considered marginal or even metal fans or punks. But in the prison environment, tattoos take on a whole new meaning. What is the significance of tattoos? In fact, certain tattoos among inmates have very specific meanings, and while overall they represent a way to show belonging to a group or simply a way to assert oneself and deter other prisoners, they alone can be a true résumé of the inmate for those who can decipher their meaning, revealing information such as the number of years in prison or even the criminal history of the inmate – true identifiers indeed.

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