Erasing Gang Tattoos Offers Inmates A “Clean Slate”

It’s no secret that gang life can have an unfortunate draw on young people in particular.

This makes sense, according to an information detail from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Young people often have not had adequate time to develop critical thinking skills, or otherwise disregard thoughts of the future.

“Some [prison inmates] acquired their first tattoo as young as eleven years old, before they could make a wise decision,” the LA Sheriff’s Department report notes.

And gang tattoos could come in handy for law enforcement as well. Because most gang members will get a tattoo at some point during their stint in gang life, police can use said ink as identification markers, something that clearly delineates who was in a gang and what gang they were in.

But a new way of thinking has recently overtaken that notion.

The LA Sheriff’s Department Tattoo Removal Program gives prison inmates and former gang members who renounce gang life a means of having their tattoo wiped off for good.

The information detail reports:

Once considered permanent, tattoos are now removable through laser treatments. The highly successful Tattoo Removal Service uses that advanced technology, and benefits inmates who commit to bettering themselves while in custody so they can re-enter our communities truly with “a clean slate.” 

The Tattoo Removal Service incentivizes inmates to engage in structured academic, vocational, life-skills and other learning opportunities offered by EBI, as participation in those courses and activities makes them eligible for tattoo removal treatments. 

In effect, the removal of the tattoo acts as a symbolic parting-of-the-ways from a past life. Inmates can now use job training, education and personal betterment as a way back to a normal life. Erasing the tattoo is merely the last step before they become new men.

Almost all inmates have experienced the negative social stigma attached to any tattoo–compounded when it’s offensive or prominently displayed on the face, neck, or hands. An employer’s no-tattoo policy, formal or not, limits released inmates’ job and advancement opportunities. 

Head over to the LA Sheriff’s Department website to learn more about the program, its history and how many people have benefitted since it first began.