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Correctional colony (or simply colony)

A prison facility which looks like a guarded territory with different buildings; a canteen, sleeping barracks, a sports ground, production area, etc. Prisoners can go outside (still inside the colony bounds), meet other prisoners, work, play sports and so on. In colonies prisoners have to work, but there are some colonies where there’s no production and they just hang around.


A guarded building where prisoners stay in cells for 6—10 people each and have the right to have a walk for 1 hour a day. They don’t work and can’t meet other prisoners apart from their cellmates. In the book, both colonies and prisons are named after the town they are situated in and given a number, e.g. Gorky colony No. 9.

Protective Custody

A cell, usually in a disciplinary segregation (de-seg) or secure housing unit, where they keep convicts who can’t be kept with the other convicts. Usually these are people who made some ugly moves like stealing from other prisoners or not paying off their debts, but also victims of cops’ provocations. According to the Correctional Code, any convict can be transferred to a safe place on a written request.

Chow server

A member of household service staff, or a convict who is serving food to those staying in the cells of the disciplinary segregation section, secure housing unit or prison.

Screw, Turnkey

A prison guard, inspector.


A small window in the door of a cell through which the convicts are served food, and most of the communication between a convict and the administration is happening.

Secure housing unit (SHU)

Cells for convicts who violate the rules in a colony. Usually it’s similar to disciplinary segregation (below), but the convict is allowed to have more personal things: letters, books, magazines, more clothes, shopping in the colony shop, etc. The warden puts convicts in the secure housing unit for up to 6 months.

Dungeon, De-Seg

A cell for those who violate the rules in a colony. All personal belongings are forbidden there, there is no mattress to sleep on and no walks allowed. The governor can put convicts to the punishment cell for up to 10 nights.


A search in a cell or a personal search of a convict.


A cell.

The De-Seg