Convict finger tattoos
I - An ‘anti-social’ convict - one hostile to the legal authorities and law-enforcement agencies, who rejects the prison regime and refuses to work. Until fairly recently ‘anti-socials’ would be driven into ‘pressing-huts’, where the ‘pressers’ - specifically selected criminals - ‘applied the method of Leninist physical persuasion’, beating and raping them until they were completely broken. The ‘pressers’ were well-fed from the other prisoners’ food parcels and not made to do any work. If after his release a ‘presser’ offended again and ended up in a part of the zone where his former activities were known, his life was made a living hell. he would not usually survive for very long.
II - This is an old tattoo worn by a criminal boss or ‘authority’ - an experienced ‘legitimate thief’ who possesses undisputed authority among other prisoners. In the past the commands of a criminal authority were obeyed without question by lower-ranking thieves and other convicts.
III - ‘I resent the sentence’. The acronym spells the Russian word for God, but it stands for ‘I was condemned by the State’. A tattoo widespread among young convicts in the 1960s and 1970s.
IV & V - An ‘anarchist’ convict - one who rejects the prison regime and refuses to recognise prison camp laws, rules and etiquette. In some places in the west, the laws of prison and camp life ceased to be observed and the influence of the caste of ‘legitimate thieves’ was weakened. In places of detention in the far north of Siberia, the “black thieves’ zones”, there are no anarchists, as the entire camp can make such convicts ‘bunkless outcasts’; their arrogance is quickly beaten out of them and they keep a low profile.
VI -‘I was in a closed jail’. A corrective labour colony with a special prison regime for particularly dangerous prisoners, known for attacking overseers and administrators in the prison camp system. Men wearing this tattoo possess status among other convicts. As models of endurance and loyalty to the criminal world, they are an example to be imitated by the young.