Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

How does a supervisor in a prison address an inmate? For example, a relative came to visit one of the inmates, so the supervisor is going to the cell (where many inmates are) and is about to call on that inmate. How would he address him then? It seems quite unlikely to me that the supervisor would address an inmate as "Mr. (Last name)"

share|improve this question
3  
"Hey, you there! –  Armen Ծիրունյան Feb 22 '12 at 13:57
    
Hey con, you've company. –  Em1 Feb 22 '12 at 13:58
    
Sounds like you're writing something? If you're doing research for a story or something like that, why not contact someone directly in the field? –  Sam Feb 22 '12 at 14:00
    
@Armen - But what if he in that kind of situation when he doesn't see the needed inmate yet? For example in the yard when all the inmates are taking a walk. Then, I guess he would have to identify him somehow by his last name or in some other way. –  brilliant Feb 22 '12 at 14:01
1  
How in the world did this question get closed as "not constructive"? How does it not fit the Q&A format or not involve "facts, references, or specific expertise"? –  chaos Feb 22 '12 at 22:14
show 16 more comments

closed as not constructive by simchona, Matt Эллен, JSBձոգչ, Daniel, Mitch Feb 22 '12 at 16:11

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I have never been in a prison, but in fiction, guards generally address inmates by their last names, without honorific: Johnson, you have a visitor. In a more formal situation, full names without honorific might be used: Michael Leroy Johnson, you are hereby released from the custody of this prison. An especially cold guard or warden might use the inmate's number: Hey 24601, get back to work.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Last name is usual. An announcement where the supervisor does not necessarily know that last name will be specific enough may be of the form first name, last name; last name, first name; or last name, first initial. "Mr. Last Name" would pretty much only be used to put the inmate on notice that this is a particularly formal, and therefore particularly threatening, interaction. Identification numbers are almost never used.

Also note that in the United States, the preferred term for someone in the supervisory role you describe is "corrections officer", or CO ("see-oh") for short; inmates who are not specifically trying to be unpleasant will usually use the term CO. Corrections officers look down on the concept of being a "guard" as a sort of low-rent, mindless warehousing function, whereas the job they do is felt to be considerably more demanding. They do not like to be called guards.

share|improve this answer
    
You can call them badge, too. At least in movies it is often said. –  Em1 Feb 22 '12 at 16:06
    
@Em1: Doesn't happen in real life in the United States. –  chaos Feb 22 '12 at 16:14
    
@chaos I’m sorry that you know this, but I thank you for the info. :) –  tchrist Feb 22 '12 at 16:45
    
@tchrist: Ain't no thang. :) –  chaos Feb 22 '12 at 16:53
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.