"Nail them and jail them” (or “nail ‘em and jail ‘em") is a policing method. Three terms are often used in the saying, such as “tail ‘em, nail ‘em and jail ‘em,” “trail ‘em, nail ‘em and jail ‘em,” and “surveil ‘em, nail ‘em and jail ‘em.”
“Nail ‘em and jail ‘em” has been cited in print since at least 1921. “The old ‘Nail ‘em’ and ‘Jail ‘em’ operation” was cited in 1971. “Trail ‘em, nail ‘em, and jail ‘em” was cited in 1991. “Tail them, nail them and jail them” was cited in 1994. “Trail ‘em, Surveil ‘em, Nail ‘em, and Jail ‘em” was cited in 1998.
The Free Dictionary
nail-em-and-jail-em and nailer
n. the police in general; a police officer. Old nail-em-and-jail-em is going to be knocking at your door any day now. Victor mooned a nailer and almost got nailed.
29 May 1921, Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL), pg. 4, col. 4:
NAIL ‘EM AND JAIL ‘EM
When fool drivers race their cars
Lock ‘em up.
They belong behind the bars;
Lock ‘em up.
15 September 1927, New Castle (PA) News, “The Road Hog” (poem), pg. 4, col. 4:
Let’s nail them, jail them, tie them up.
With other swine to dine and sup.
California Youth Authority Quarterly
My main concern for the development of the treatment program for youthful drug offenders is that it not be one of the old “Nail em” and “Jail ‘em” operation.
By George Kirkham
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
“Dismissed. Nail ‘em and jail ‘em” he said.
Runnin’ Down Some Lines:
The Language and Culture of Black Teenagers
By Edith A. Folb
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
... and the All Stars, Uncle Nab, nail ‘em and jail ‘em, Sherlock Holmes, and other expressions like pig heaven (police station) or Sam and Dave (partners in a patrol car).
28 April 1991, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), “Prison Reform: To stop the revolving door” by Chester Newland, pg. C1, col. 1:
Trail ‘em, nail ‘em, and jail ‘em.
1 June 1994, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette, “Corrections,” pg. 6A, col. 3:
Assistant director Jean Kuehl says there is an old stereotype about supervising clients—“you tail them, nail them and jail them”—where a supervisory officer often does little more than sit back and wait for a client to mess up enough to go to prison.
The Expanding Prison:
The Crisis in Crime and Punishment and the Search for Alternatives
By David Cayley
Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press Limited
CRIME CONTROL IN THE UNITED STATES
“Trail ‘em, Surveil ‘em, Nail ‘em, and Jail ‘em”
Resource Material Series
The slogan of one prevention service, I think in California is, “Surveil them, nail them, jail them”. It means “watch them”, “wait until they go the wrong way” and then “jail them” so that is not a vision of prevention service that I particularly look for.
Problem Solving Courts:
A Measure of Justice
By JoAnn Miller and Donald C. Johnson
Lanham, MD; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
To sum it up, using police jargon, a punitive response to drug offenders, and an appropriate one, is “Trail them, nail them, and jail them.”
Justice & Is Just Us:
A Story for Anyone Who Believes in Change
By Harold B. Wooten
Bloomington, IN: iUniverse
“Then I screamed something like, ‘Stop this tail ‘em, nail ‘em, jail ‘em punishment crap!”
“Trail ‘em, nail ‘em and jail ‘em. That’s how we used to describe the old way of doing things” http://bit.ly/UaM9bc #probation
7:55 AM - 15 Jul 2014
American Corrections: Concepts and Controversies
By Barry Krisberg, Susan Marchionna and Christopher Hartney
Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Community supervision was dominated by a philosophy of “surveil them, nail them, and jail them.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, April 07, 2015 • Permalink