Inmates spend a lot of time locked into jail or prison cells. Over the years a standardized systems have evolved so that wherever an inmate is sent to do his time, he will be able to communicate with other inmates. Here are the main methods:
The kite system is universally accepted among inmates as a way to talk, exchange information or make arrangements. A kite is a sheet of paper folded into a self-contained triangle, rectangle or square. A long string is attached to it, which makes it resemble a kite.
The inmate writes a note to another inmate on the paper before folding it into the self-contained shape. The string is secured tightly around the shape so that it will not fall off the string when being tossed around. The string is long enough to secure the paper and also leave a very long tail.
When the inmate sends the kite, he aims the kite toward the cell he wants to reach and he slides it under the cell door with force so that it glides across the POD floor. He holds the end of the string so if he misses his mark or the guards start coming into the POD he can pull the note back quickly. The recipient inmate reads the note, responds and sends a kite back.
If the inmate is not across the POD, but is on the same side as the inmate, the inmate sends the kite sideways as it leaves his cell. Other inmates will sometimes help the kite along using various utensils that they have in their cells.
Kites are used by groups of inmates to plan attacks on other inmates, coded gang discussions, exchanging information about things going on in the jail or prison and sometimes just to talk.
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In local and county jails around the country, and in a few prisons, the air vent systems are set up in such a manner that inmates can talk to each other.
The inmate climbs up on the sink/toilet or bunk etc until he is eye level with the air vent in the cell. He can speak into the vent and that vent is attached at some point to other vents in the system. Inmates along the vent system can speak to each other.
Vent talking differs from kites in that everyone on the vent system can hear everything being said. The kite system is only read by the sender and recipient, as long as nobody intercepts it.
If the inmate is in a gang, he learns an entire sign language specific to that gang. When inmates that belong to the same gang wish to communicate, they flash signs back and forth.
In many jails across the country, inmates will empty the toilet and speak into it to talk through the plumbing system. This is relatively public as others along the same plumbing line can hear everything being discussed.
Strange but true: Inmates use toilets to talk
"We have dormitory style [cells] where the female range is close to the male range and sometimes the females talk to the males through the toilet. I think it's nasty," said Deputy Warden Art Marx of the Butler County Jail. He said the facility is old and "that won't happen" in the new jail the county is building.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/frontpage/2007/06/27/Inmates-giving-cell-phone-new-meaning-use-toilets-to-talk/stories/200706270307#ixzz32kKa7ws1
Because guards and other inmates could confiscate the kite and the vent system is so public, there are risks involved.