DOC Jargon & Prison Slang

A fledgling glossary of WA DOC and prisoner terminology, including acronyms, initialisms, and slang. For a complete list of WA DOC acronyms, see here, and for an explanation of legalistic terminology found in WA DOC internal policies, see WA DOC’s policy glossary.

See any inaccuracies or know of terms we are missing? Help us build this linguistic treasury by contacting us here.


  • Ad-Seg – see Administrative Segregation (a.k.a. solitary confinement; see also IMU)
  • Administrative Segregation – a euphemistic term for placement in solitary confinement pending a bureaucratic investigation process, in which prisoners are confined alone in a dismal cell for 23 hours a day, and are deprived of most forms of property, human interaction, proper nutrition, exposure to nature, quality reading materials, etc.



  • Car – all the fellow members of a prisoner’s racial group in a given prison facility
  • CePrisons – a digital record systems prison visitation staff use to record documentation and behavioral observations of prison visitors
  • Checking in – when a prisoner asks to be placed in protective custody (see PC up)
  • CPM – Correctional Program Manager
  • CPPC – Community Participation Program Coordinator
  • Cuff up – a command given to prisoners when staff want to impose handcuffs
  • CUS – Custody Unit Supervisor



  • Easy keeper – a docile prisoner; can be one who is kept docile through a carb-and-processed-food-heavy diet, through psychiatric drugs, through insufficient dietary protein (or calories), or any other mechanism


  • to fall – to be imprisoned after being convicted of a crime
  • Fog Line – a term whose usage is a bit vague to us at WA Corrections Watch… it is a term used by WA DOC staff when even so much as a wisp of fog serves as grounds for locking prisoners down in their units and/or canceling prisoners’ access to scheduled outdoor recreation time. The term is referenced as a funded overtime post in the Extra Posts section of this WA DOC 2015 Prison Overtime Usage report to the legislature (PDF pg. 10, report pg. 9)
  • Food Refusal Event – a euphemistic term for a prisoner food or hunger strike
  • FRMT – Facility Risk Management Team (most frequently used as a term for the reviews of individual prisoners carried out by the team…don’t ask us why the initialism used is not FRMTR!)
  • Funny Beef – a criminal conviction that causes a prisoner to be ostracized and/or bullied by fellow prisoners


  • Games and garbage up – a command to prisoners and prison visitors to clean up their table after a visit (during which food is eaten and board games may be played)
  • General Population – the mainstream population of prisoners (as opposed to, say, protective custody or solitary confinement populations)


  • The Hole – Solitary Confinement (see also IMU, administrative segregation, involuntary protective custody)
  • The Hole Circuit – when prisoners are transferred across different state prison facilities’ Intensive Management Units (solitary confinement units) as a way of “handling” challenging or unpopular prisoners, or to give the impression on paper that prisoners are being kept in solitary confinement for shorter periods than is the actual case
  • Hug-A-Thug – a derogatory term used to describe staff who are perceived as treating prisoners as regular human beings


  • I&I (or INI) – Intelligence & Investigations
  • IMU – Intensive Management Unit (a.k.a. solitary confinement; see also Ad-Seg)
  • Incident Report – a formal record completed by WA DOC staff describing incident events the staff member personally witnessed
  • Involuntary Protective Custody – when prisoners are placed into solitary confinement (IMU) or a protective custody living unit because prison administration determines it is not safe for the prisoner to be in general population



  • Knucklehead – a euphemistic word used by staff and prisoners alike to describe a prisoner who engages in foolish and obnoxious behavior (can be used to justify or explain away rough treatment of said prisoner)



  • Mainline – (1) General population living units and spaces; (2) Standard prison meals



  • OMNI – Offender Management Network Information, an electronic record keeping system where a prisoner’s individual central file records are compiled, and where Behavior Observation Entries are recorded


  • PC – see “Protective Custody”
  • PC up – to request to be placed in protective custody (prisoners call this “checking in”)
  • Prisneyland – a derogatory term used by WA DOC staff who are opposed to progressive programs (such as higher education or horticulture programs) for prisoners
  • Protective Custody – prisoner housing that is segregated from general population, sometimes a form of solitary confinement



  • Relief staff – staff who fill in for various positions in the prison facilities
  • Restrictive Housing Unit – a euphemistic term for a solitary confinement living unit (see also Intensive Management Unit)


  • Spit Hood (Spit Guard, Spit Mask) – a restraint device placed over a prisoner’s face and head in order to prevent spitting or biting (typically used in solitary confinement units)
  • Sup [pronounced “soop”] – superintendent, warden


  • Tray up – a command given to prisoners at the end of a meal when it is time to clean up meal trays


  • WA-ONE – Washington Offender Needs Evaluation, a controversial new risk assessment tool designed in collaboration by WA DOC and Washington State University


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