Understanding the Prison Hierarchy: The Status of "Opushenniy" and Other Castes

What does the status “opushenniy” (offended) mean in prison?

The term in criminal jargon that denotes a person occupying the lowest rung in the prison hierarchy, a passive homosexual, or a person with whom a homosexual sexual contact has been forcibly committed, usually for gross violations of the norms of inmate ethics.

What happens to those who have status “opushenniy “ in prison?

In relation to other prisoners, the "opushenniy" have no rights, only duties and prohibitions. There are many taboos regarding the "opushenniy", and new ones are constantly emerging, while the prohibitions themselves vary in different types of prisons. For example, in so-called "juvenile" prisons, taboos are particularly harsh and numerous (it is believed that most of the "opushenniy" become so precisely in "juvenile" prisons), while in adult prisons (especially those with strict regimes) there are not as many prohibitions and the situation of the "opushenniy" is better (for example, in strict regime prisons it is not accepted to beat the "opushenniy" without reason, for entertainment).

What are the castes in prison?

"Castes" in prison refer to groups of prisoners who occupy different positions in the informal hierarchy that develops in places of confinement. Depending on their belonging to a particular caste, the prisoner has different rights and obligations.
The first and highest caste is the "blatnye" (criminal elite);
the second, the most numerous, is the "muzhiki" (regular prisoners);
the third, which is more or less large (depending on the prison), is the "kozly" (outcasts);
and the fourth, the lowest caste, is the "petukhi" (roosters - submissive and downtrodden).

What does "What caste are you?" mean?

If thugs approach you with the question "what caste are you?" it is not recommended to play by their rules and start making something up. You do not know all the nuances of prison terms, and they can easily trap you, catch you on any wrong word, and accuse you of violating some rules. Therefore, it is recommended to respond to the question "For what purpose do you ask?" If the thugs come up with a reason why they are interested in your caste, then you should answer, "I don't know you." According to prison terms, you cannot give information about yourself to the first person you meet, as a stranger may be working for the police.

Why don't people say "thank you" in prison?

In prison, people have a strongly negative attitude towards fake politeness. Using words like "thank you" and "please" seems to convicts like showing off, a desire to underline one's intelligence and to put oneself above the majority of prisoners. People who have a tendency to do this are quickly put in their place behind bars. In the beginning, a person might get a warning. That is in the best-case scenario. However, if a newcomer persistently forgets and uses the forbidden "thank you," they will be quickly and harshly taught a lesson. The punishment can be very severe, up to the point of violence.

There are tattoos that appear on the skin of convicts despite their wishes. Among the various categories of Russian prisoners, there are those that have been extensively written about. These are the inhabitants of the bottom of the prison hierarchy, known as the "offended", i.e. the prisoners who have been excluded from the ranks of respectable inmates for violating thief concepts and laws. Surprisingly, even this category of prisoners has their own "signature" tattoos, although very often they are applied against the will of their owners.

Count Taburetkin. They can only be hit with various objects, including a stool
Count Footstool

During the time of the Gulag, prisoners in places of confinement would have shameful tattoos carved on their chests for those who had committed sexual crimes that were not so distant. An example of such a tattoo is the image that was carved on the chest of a criminal convicted for depraved actions with minors in the late 1940s. This deviant was given the nickname "Count Taburetkin". Perhaps he was named this way because according to thief concepts, "roosters" (and inmates made lovers of minors passive pedophiles) cannot be beaten with hands. They can only be hit with various objects, including a stool.

Kozel. in Russian zones the word pederast is considered a terrible insult

"Rats", "pigs" - these categories of prisoners, like the inhabitants of the "cockhouse", are not highly respected by other inmates. To make it clear to everyone who they are dealing with among the normal convicts, these categories of inmates were often forcibly tattooed with shameful images of corresponding animals. Sometimes, for clarity, the image was accompanied by the article number of the Criminal Code. This could help one understand why this particular inmate landed in jail.

A drawing of a dog and a word - bitchy
A drawing of a pig and a word - chushok

Women were not an exception to this practice. Although it was not considered shameful for women to engage in lesbian sex, they were regarded with the same negativity as "rat women", "piglets", and "bitches" in the male zone. No matter how much our democrats with Western leanings try to instill tolerance towards representatives of sexual minorities, in Russian zones the word "pederast" is considered a terrible insult, which can only be washed away with the blood of the one who uttered it.

A drawing of a rat and a word - Krisyatnik - rat nest
A drawing of a pig with crown and a word -Greb v cherdachke
A drawing of a crown and a saying - Mashka s trudo dnyami

It is not surprising that the "cocks", "fairies", and "daisies" of the camp would not think of demanding the same rights as other inmates. In order to distinguish them from other normal inmates, gays in prisoner's clothing are often forcibly tattooed with images of crowns and playing cards. The owner of such a tattoo is called the "king of all suits" by the criminals. Such a tattoo is usually done on the back of a passive homosexual. No decent inmate will share a cigarette with such a "downed" person, sit at the same table, or take things that have been touched by a "cock" and have become "contaminated". For the "offended", there are special tables in the prison cafeteria, they sleep separately from the others, in their "cocks' corner", and even in the common toilet there are special toilets and urinals for representatives of sexual minorities.

If an inmate from the bottom of the prison hierarchy tries to remove the tattoo forcibly imposed on them, it can cost them a lot of trouble.

Sergei Shchukin
Tattoo copies were done by Dantsik Baldaev.
According to the newspaper
"Behind Bars" (No.11, 2009)


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