Why does Lil Wayne have a tear

Jail tattoos: that's what the symbols mean

All about ink

The meaning behind the most famous jail tattoos

In principle, tattooing is prohibited in prisons. But that has not stopped any prisoner from stabbing, because it is well known that they do not like rules and prohibitions at all. No other type of tattoo has as many myths, stories and meanings as that of prison tattoos.
But how do you get a tattoo without professional equipment and a touch of nothing legal in prisons? One thing is certain: it takes a long time and it hurts a lot. One option is to cut into the affected area and fill the wound with ink or ashes. Others know how to help themselves with a needle and thread soaked in ink. This is pulled under the skin and leaves a trail of ink. Some inmates get particularly creative and use tools such as walkmans, razors or wire to make their own ultimate tattoo machine. We always knew that inmates have too much time.

Jail tear

Lots of rappers like Lil Wayne or the Game wear it. The model Jeremy Meeks, who became famous for his mugshot, still proudly shows his little souvenir from old prison days. The tear tattoo is probably one of the most famous tattoos from the criminal scene and accordingly has many meanings that one can argue about. Many say a tear under the eye represents a murder that this person started. Others claim it shows the number of previous prison terms. The tear can also symbolize grief for a loved one. An unfilled tear is said to mean that the person has not yet completed their work or vengeance.

My crazy Life. Prisoners who have three dots arranged in a triangle are usually associated with a gang. It stands for belonging, but also a life at the limit, full of extremes and everything that violates the norm. Most of the time people wear the three points on their eyes or on their hands.


These abbreviations, which are worn on the back of their fingers by inmates, have no profound meaning. Anyone who opts for a tattoo such as “Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty” and especially “All Cops are bastards” for their time behind bars cannot guarantee that the prison guards will receive preferential treatment.

In contrast to Mi Vida Loca, the five point tattoo stands for a stay in prison. The point in the middle symbolizes the inmate himself, the four outer ones represent the walls of the prison. This tattoo, too, is usually stabbed on the hand between the thumb and forefinger.

Cobweb and barbed wire

Similar to the five-point tattoo, the spider web symbolizes the time in prison. The longer the prisoner has to serve his time, the larger the net is stabbed around the elbow or knee. With barbed wire, every knot is behind bars for another year.

Eyes on the chest

Anyone who encounters a prisoner with this tattoo should be careful. Because he fought for a lot of power during his time in jail and enjoys a high level of authority and respect. Not to be confused with the person who wears eyes on their stomach, which symbolizes homosexuality.

About the author
Mareike moved from her 3000-strong home village in Lower Saxony to Düsseldorf in 2018 and began studying communication and multimedia management. Before that, she lived in California for almost two years, during which time she traveled to 13 states in the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. Her first tattoo was created spontaneously on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles as a reminder of the unforgettable time in America. The second followed during a 2 month backpacking trip through Asia. She discovered her passion for writing through her own travel blog, which she ran during her stay abroad.