Prison Tattoos and Their Secret Meanings
The numbers 1488 can be found on the tattoos of white supremacist/nazi inmates. 14 or 88 on their own can also be used. This can create confusion, as the Nuestra Familia gang also uses the number 14 in their tattoos.
In the case of white supremacists, the 14 represents 14 words. The 14 words are a quote by nazi leader David Lane: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children" The 88 is shorthand for the 8th letter of the alphabet twice, HH, which represents Heil Hitler. These tattoos can be found anywhere on the body, it doesn't have to be on the forehead, like this gentleman is displaying. Ladies, we hear he's single . . .
Cobweb tattoos have become very popular these days with people who were never convicts, but the cobweb is most definitely a prison tattoo. People get cobwebs to symbolize a lengthy term in prison.
The symbolism of the cobweb is the association with spiders trapping prey and criminals being trapped behind bars. The spider web represents the prison (that's deep bro.) This tattoo is commonly found on the elbow because it also represents a lot of time with your elbows on the table. I.E. you've been sitting in prison doing nothing for so long that a spider is weaving a cobweb on your elbow. Convicts also often get the cobweb tattooed on their necks as well. If you see a multi-colored web, it's probably not a prison tat; prison tattoo artists rarely have access to colored ink.
One of the most widely recognized prison tattoos is the teardrop. But the meaning of the teardrop varies geographically. In some places a teardrop represents a long prison sentence, in other places the teardrop represents that the bearer committed a murder.
Sometimes the teardrop is empty. This can symbolize an attempted murder, or that one of the inmate's friends was murdered and that they are seeking revenge. Rappers and other celebrities have popularized teardrop tattoos, which has led to many non-convicts getting the prison tattoos just for the 'hard' look it creates. If you are considering getting a teardrop tattoo, be warned: If you go to prison for the first time while sporting an unauthentic prison tattoo, you will make a lot of enemies, real fast.