What Does A Star Tattoo Mean In Prison?

If you have watched the TV show Prison Break, you must remember the protagonist Michael Scofield with a back full of tattoos that were the blueprint of his escape plan. Now, he was a man with a plan. But if you have noticed in that show or others, a lot of prisoners get tattoos, a common of which is a star tattoo.

According to experts in Criminal Justice, the tattoos of prisoners are about the crimes they committed. A star tattoo on a prisoner would indicate how many people they killed or how many years they have to serve in prison. Besides, it is a popular tattoo element among Russian gang members.

It is interesting how an innocent tattoo design can represent something so shocking when you see it in a different place. If you intend to get a star tattoo and have been searching for the perfect design, take a break and read the article first.

What Is A Prison Tattoo?

A prison tattoo means the activity of getting tattooed while staying behind bars. Prisoners often get tattoos to show their membership in a particular gang, indicate their gang position, or exhibit their capability to take in pain. On the other hand, some choose specific designs to symbolize their prison time, while others get a tattoo as a sign to signify their criminal activities on their body.

However, it is illegal to get tattoos in US prisons. But that does not stop inmates from getting inked. Although they do not get the proper supplies and devices, they invent their own methods and machines from their surroundings. They make do with staplers, ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils, paper clips, and other spare parts.

Sometimes they improvise their ink using pens, shampoo, and soot. Melting plastic, Styrofoam, or rubber is common practice, too.

The absence of sterile products and a hygienic environment can cause health risks like diseases (i.e., HIV, tetanus, hepatitis, etc.) and skin infections. For this, prison tattoos do not look as polished as professional ones.

Inmates make their prison tattoos with black inks and thick outlines without many shades or details. That mainly has to do with no access to colors or necessary supplies to make colors.

In recent times, the trends of DIY and stick-and-poke tattoos have made it to US prisons. But that has been the case for centuries in prisons in other parts of the world.

Star Tattoo Symbolism

Stars are remarkably known to symbolize protection, spirituality, truth, protection, and guidance. Moreover, it embodies light, helping you find directions at night.

The symbolism of a star tattoo depends on its type. Each illustrates a distinguished aspect that one can use for strength, power, hope, and other expressions.

For example, there are nautical stars, shooting stars, Celtic stars, pentagram stars, tribal stars, etc. They all have different symbolisms. Shooting stars signify good fortune, whereas nautical stars are for protection. Contrarily, pentagram stars vouch for satanic belief. One has to research the shape of the stars and align that with their messages to pick a tattoo design.

Star Tattoo Meaning In Prison

People (who are not prisoners!) get a star for different reasons. For some, the tattoo stands for hope or ambition. Others want it as a direction to finding their way in life. You will also find that individuals with a fascination for astronomy also have star tattoos. Then there are people who want to have it more personal by making it a reminder of their struggle to conquer a barrier or their long-cherished success and accomplishments in life.

See, everything about the star tattoo gives off a positive vibe. But that is only as long as general people have it. A star tattoo meaning will turn upside down when a prisoner gets it.

Prisoners get star tattoos as a sign of their involvement in a particular group. They also use them to show off their ranks and power to the other inmates with a view to staying on the strong side in prison politics.

Inmates sentenced for murders choose the tattoo to mark the number of individuals they killed. It can also show the number of years one has to serve. However, other criminals have star tattoos that stand for other crimes.

For example, Russian criminals, prisoners, and gang members have a particular star tattoo called the thief’s or thieves’ star. The phrase ‘Vor v Zakone’ means ‘Thief by Law,’ indicating the elite members notorious for organized crimes.

The tattoo bears multiple interpretations depending on its placement. If a prisoner has it on their shoulder or chest, it shows they have high authority. If it is on their knee, it implies that the gang member does not fall to anyone’s knees. They are not accountable to anyone.

Star Tattoo Placement For Prisoners

The placement of the star tattoo can be anywhere. But sometimes, prisoners choose particular places to convey specific meanings, as you have read in the previous section.

However, elbows are the popular tattoo area among prisoners in general. That is mostly because of the exposure. It is a place nobody will miss. You will not find a better place to carry a silent message to tell others who the prison boss is.

Final Words

Are you backing off on your idea of getting a star tattoo? Don’t. The objective of the article was not to talk you out of getting it but to inform you of its negative meanings. Even if you have never gone to prison, there is a chance people will misunderstand you when they see your star tattoo.

But you cannot ignore how many beautiful interpretations it has. So, if you are confident that it is the best element to define your persona and you can deal with how people will take it, go ahead by all means. Otherwise, it is best to dismiss it and look for other thousand tattoo inspirations.

I hope the article was helpful. Whatever tattoo you pick in the end, good luck with it!

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