A Survivor's Guide to Speaking Prison Slang
by Gary K. Farlow J.D.

Aimed at offering "insight into the criminal mind and the subculture of the nation's penal system," this dictionary-style guide to prison slang should certainly make readers appreciate the rewards of a law-abiding life. The book paints a colorful and quite varied picture of prison life, compiling words and phrases that are by turns insightful, funny, or just plain mundane, as well vulgar or sexually explicit. Former inmate Farlow, who collected these idioms while serving a ten-year sentence in the North Carolina Department of Corrections, provides definitions of each term and shows how it might be used in a sentence. As a dictionary, the book feels somewhat incomplete and lacking in authority, especially when compared with other slang dictionaries or dictionaries of specific subgroups of the English language. This is owing partly to the omission of etymologies, which should have been an essential component of this book. Although some examples of word usage are provided, it would have been helpful to include more information on how these terms were adopted by prisoners, which terms are used on the "outside," and whether these terms have the same meaning on the "outside." In addition, the book's layout is rather crude: not only is the font excessively big but the overall design looks a bit clumsy. Still, "prison-ese" is becoming a dialect of the growing subculture in American prisons (which currently have a population of over a million), and this book will be useful to those who work with prisoners or are studying criminology or prison life. For academic libraries, prison libraries, or libraries serving mystery and crime authors.

5 1/2 x 8 1/2 83 pages

Price $12.95