• Efrat ShohamEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Criminology book series (BRIEFSCRIMINOL)


The unique nature of Israeli society and the fissures within it have also affected the prisoner population in Israeli prisons. The community of prisoners reflects, in microcosm, the composition of individuals in general society, although the relative portion of members of ethnic, religious, gender and social status groups is different in prison that in general society. The inmate population forms a community that has its values, codes and behavioral norms, which form under the subculture conditions of a closed and differentiated community hostile to general society. The only thing that cannot be stripped from an inmate, due to clear limitations, is his skin; therefore, a broad culture of tattoos has developed among inmates. Tattoos serve as attire that the owner wears on the surface of his body. While we can find tattoos among other groups of convicts in prisons around the world, this phenomenon is particularly prominent in Israeli prisons due to the religious prohibition in Judaism and Islam to tattoo one’s body. The first part of this book is dedicated to a general description of the inmates’ sub-culture and its characteristics, as well as the supervision and control mechanisms and the main sources of attraction for criminals from the former Soviet Union in Israel. Next we will examain the symbolic meaning behind the tattoos, as a skin-deep secret language. Finally, the book will compare the characteristics and roles of tattoo language in the criminal world, among men and women, and the roles of tattoos in civilian society. This book is most important to those working with inmate populations and inmates themselves, to criminologists and everyone else intrigued by the language of tattoos.


Prisoner Population General Society Arab Population Israeli Society Inmate Population 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CriminologyAshkelon Academic CollegeAshkelonIsrael

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