Donate your used tattoo removal laser device to Jails to Jobs

used tattoo removal laser deviceAre you a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, hospital, tattoo artist or anyone else who provides tattoo removal treatments? Are you planning to replace your tattoo removal laser device with a newer model?

If so, consider donating your device to Jails to Jobs.

We help community-based organizations acquire laser devices so they may establish or expand a program to provide free or low-cost tattoo removal services to those with visible gang-related, hate or anti-social tattoos or victims of human trafficking who have been tattooed against their will. There are many organizations out there that would like to do this but can’t afford the price of a tattoo removal laser device.

And that’s where you could come in. By donating your device to Jails to Jobs, you will receive a tax deduction.

You will also have the satisfaction of being involved in something that can have a tremendous impact on the lives of others and on a community. Outside In, a Portland, Ore., program that provides health and social services for homeless and other marginalized youth, for example, was able to start its very successful tattoo removal program with a single donated laser device.

What’s acceptable

Any tattoo removal laser device in working condition. Older models are fine if they have been properly maintained.

Your donation will be tax-deductible

Jails to Jobs is a 501(C)3 public charity, and donations are tax deductible. (Nonprofit hospitals may be able to use a donation to help meet their community benefits requirement). We supply donors with a letter that includes the details of the equipment donated and our IRS tax I.D. We don’t include the value of your donation. You must work with your accountant to establish how much it is worth, but we can refer you to a few websites for used equipment – dotmed.com, www.synergymedsales.com and thelaseragent.com – and related companies to help in establishing a fair market value.

If you’d like to be involved in helping those with visible gang-related, anti-social or hate tattoos – or victims of human trafficking with tattoos that remind them of their unhappy past – get them removed, please contact us. You will be instrumental in assisting motivated individuals as they begin to turn their lives around, find employment and become contributing members of society.

 

Redemption Ink partners with Jails to Jobs to get more tattoo shops involved with tattoo removal

 

Redemption Ink

Dave Cutlip of Redemption Ink creates a cover-up tattoo.

Southside Tattoo of Baltimore launched Redemption Ink, a free tattoo cover-up program for hate and gang-related tattoos, in January. And it’s working with Jails to Jobs to refer potential clients in other parts of the country to free or low-cost tattoo removal programs.

Already they’ve done 22 cover-ups – not a small task considering each session can take four or five hours – and created a sister shop program to recruit other tattoo shops to do free tattoo cover-ups or removals.

It all began in a rather serendipitous way. A man, who was waiting for a pizza at the restaurant next door, dropped in to ask if they could cover up his Black Guerilla Family, a prison gang, tattoo. Because it was too big, shop owner and tattoo artist Dave Cutlip said he couldn’t do it.

But after the guy left, Dave’s wife said that maybe they could do it for other people and put a notice on Facebook that they would cover up hate and gang-related tattoos for free. And it went viral. 22 Words picked up the story, and it’s been viewed more than 29 million times.

That was in January and that’s when the emails from the media and potential clients started pouring in. Redemption Ink has gotten fan mail from as far away as New Zealand and a request for a procedure from someone in Nepal. They’ve been on Good Morning America and Japanese television, among other media appearances.

Redemption Ink has had thousands of requests for free cover-ups

As for clients, “We have thousands of requests but have approved hundreds. If we were just doing cover-ups it would take us the rest of our lives,” says Dave Ente, who handles requests and media for Redemption Ink.

There are certain criteria in order for a tattoo to be eligible for a free cover-up. If it’s gang-related, it has to be a tattoo for an actual gang, and they have resources to check if it is. Racist tattoos have to be determined to be truly racist rather than portraying southern heritage. A heart with a Confederate flag and the words “White Power” would count. The same tattoo design that says “Dixie Girl” wouldn’t.

Applicants are also asked to tell the story of their tattoo and why they decided to get it, as well as how it has affected their daily lives and ability to move forward.

Since requests have come in from all over the country – all over the world in fact – Redemption Ink has created a sister shop program and encourages other shops to get involved.  Those interested can apply on Redemption Ink’s website, and so far it has chosen six shops, including one in Greece. One requirement is that the shop must have business insurance.

All applications from potential clients for these sister shops are sent to Redemption Ink to be screened by Ente. Once a shop is approved, people can be referred to it, if they live nearby.

Jails to Jobs helps find free or low-cost tattoo removal programs for Redemption Ink clients

To help applicants in other areas of the country, Ente has turned to Jails to Jobs.

“Jails to Jobs is delighted to work with Redemption Ink. It is welcome to use the national directory of free and low-cost tattoo removal programs on our website and has been contacting us for referrals,” says Mark Drevno, Jails to Jobs’ founder and executive director.

In fact, Ente recently contacted Jails to Jobs about an application from a person with a full-back tattoo. He described it as skinheads raising the Nazi flag in a similar fashion to the iconic American photo of the Flag Over Iwo Jima.

“Besides not having a sister shop in the area, some tattoos are too big for cover-up. In this case, we were able to refer Ente to a program we featured in a recent blog article,” says Drevno.

“To further our mission, we’ve offered Redemption Ink an open invitation to contact us at any time with tattoo removal cases for anti-social, hate, racist or gang-related tattoos, when there is no existing local tattoo removal program listed in our national directory.”

Jails to Jobs looks at this as an opportunity to expand the circle of compassion and support, and recruit new providers to help create new free or low-cost tattoo removal programs in areas where there is a need and none exist.

In addition to potential individual client referrals, Jails to Jobs plans to refer tattoo artists who might want to be a Redemption Ink sister shop.

“Once these shops are onboard as a Redemption sister shop, if they’d like to do tattoo removal, we can advise them on steps to take and offer a copy of the book we’ve written: Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low-Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide,” says Drevno.

“We look at tattoo shops as natural places to also perform tattoo removal procedures. The community service offering of free or low-cost tattoo removal could be supported through business generated at market or discounted rates by regular paying customers that want other types of tattoos removed.”

“Assuming overhead costs are being met by the tattoo side of the business, the money generated by the new tattoo removal side should be incremental, less the associated costs of the laser device and sessions. On top of that, using a laser to remove tattoos rather than covering them up saves the shop a tremendous amount of time that can be used for additional charity or billable work.”

What’s next for Southside Tattoo and Redemption Ink?

The shop has decided to add tattoo removal procedures to its repertoire. It recently went to Colorado to meet with Quanta Aesthetic Lasers about purchasing a tattoo removal laser device.

“We need a medical director, and the laser has to be fired by an RN or physician’s assistant. We have a medical director already, and we’re working on some RNs,” says Ente.

Redemption Ink also wants to encourage its sister shops to do tattoo removals. While cover-ups are done for free by all, Redemption Ink would like to pay tattoo shops to do removals. Elizabeth Cutlip, Southside Tattoo owner Dave Cutlip’s wife, has launched a gofundme campaign to be able to do this. So far the campaign has raised more than $20,000 of its $60,000 goal.

Whether shops offer tattoo cover-ups or tattoo removals, it’s all about helping to create new beginnings.

“We’re trying to help people move on with their lives. People who have made the choice to not be that way anymore now that they’ve gotten out of jail or gotten out of the gang and are having a hard time finding a job,” says Ente. “We’re able to help them be contributing members of society by dealing with their gang related or hate tattoos. And we’re succeeding one tattoo at a time.”

In addition, Ente says that they’re always looking for more volunteers to be added to their sister shop program and are happy to take on more cases for those who need it.

 

Photographer Steven Burton helps ex-gang members see effects of tattoo removal and publishes book, Skin Deep

Skin Deep

Marcos Luna, one of the subjects of Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos.

In a unique endeavor – soon to be a book – photographer Steven Burton digitally erased the tattoos from portraits of ex-gang members to show what they would look like without the ink. And the results were amazing.

During the two-year project, Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos, Burton photographed 26 men and one woman, removed their tattoos using Photoshop and then interviewed them about their lives and how they felt about being tattooed.

It all began when a friend invited Burton to the premier of G-Dog, the documentary about Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. “I had just moved to L.A. and knew nothing about gangs, but I was totally overwhelmed by the movie,” he says.

What Burton noticed most was the number of tattoos that adorned the Homeboys’ bodies and how tattoo removal played an important role in the organization’s mission. “I thought, I could take tattoos off with Photoshop and see what happens,” he says.

Excited by the prospect, he produced some sample before-and-after photos and took them to Homeboy the next day to gauge interest. The people he showed them to were impressed, and Skin Deep was on its way.

Photoshopping photos took more than 400 hours

Over a period of six months Burton photographed Homeboy members and some of their friends. Each shoot lasted only about 10 minutes, but Burton spent more than 400 hours to Photoshop the tattoos off of all of his subjects.

He later went back to show the people he photographed their “before-and-after” photos and to interview them so he could include their stories in the book. That was the biggest challenge he faced during the entire project.

“The hardest thing about this book was finding the people I photographed when I returned to L.A. (He was there off and on during the two years.) Some of them had left Homeboy and changed their phone numbers,” he says.

It may have been difficult to find them, but that’s when the project became more meaningful to Burton.

“I take pictures of somebody I don’t know and get to know them through their interviews. And once you get to know someone, the tattoos become less intimidating,” he says.

How subjects see themselves without their tattoos

“But the most interesting part of this project for me is how they see themselves. At first I was so focused on how other people see them. But when they saw the pictures is when I realized it was a pretty powerful concept.”

These portraits, four in all for each subject – a headshot and a full body photo each with and without tattoos – are paired with an interview in the upcoming book.

The interviews, some as long as 2,000 words, introduce the ex-gang members as real people, and bring to life their dreams and ambitions.

“They’re fascinating, amazing interviews,” says Burton. “I was so much more interested in where they want to go in their lives and how they have changed than the crimes they committed, because that’s more relevant. The interviews are about their aspirations and hopes. They’re about what the tattoos mean to them, the challenges they face and how they deal with day-to-day life.”

And showing the photos to his subjects was also an incredible experience for Burton. Although he was concerned that his subjects would be depressed, that didn’t happen.

“There was sadness when they saw the pictures and amusement as well. It was a reflective experience,” he says. “Many things passed through their minds. They wondered if their chances in life would be different if they didn’t look like this. The tattoos reflect the life they’ve been through.”

Even before they were able to see themselves without tattoos, 90 percent of his subjects had already decided to get their tattoos removed. Two of the men in the book have since been shot and killed by the police.

powerHouse Books to release Skin Deep in October

Although he’d like to continue the project, possibly taking it to prisons, Burton will remain busy with his photography business and promoting the book, which will be released in October by powerHouse Books.

The experience taught him a great deal and made him reevaluate his first impressions of people who may, at first glance, look very different from others. And his tattooed subjects inspired him.

“I learned about the incredible courage it takes to change your life. If these people can do what they do, then we have no excuses. They come from a pretty abusive background, and to actually change themselves and find work is incredibly humbling,” he says. “But mainly, I learned that they’re human beings like everyone else.”

When published this fall, Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos will be available on Burton’s website, and through powerHouse Books, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Group of Kentucky friends creates free tattoo-removal program for ex-offenders

Tattoo Removal Ink

Armando Diaz of Astanza Laser’s New Look Laser College trains Tattoo Removal Ink volunteers to do tattoo removal procedures.

Thanks to the free and low-cost tattoo removal program directory on our website, we’ve been in touch with quite a few people who provide this service.

But rarely have we come across a story quite like that of Jo Martin of Florence, Ky. She rallied a group of friends, got them all to learn how to use a laser device and started Tattoo Removal Ink, a free tattoo removal service, all within the space of a year.

Now it’s up and running – the group performed 100 free procedures from mid-January to mid-February, their first month in business. And she’s still a bit in awe about how it all came about.

Three-and-a-half years ago after retiring from a 30-year career with AT&T and still dealing with the sudden death of her husband several years before that, Martin was approached by a woman at her church and asked if she’d like to tutor at the local jail.

“I wanted to say no, but yes came out of my mouth,” she says. At first it was rather daunting. “I was never exposed to that kind of environment and had never even been inside of a jail.”

Once she began volunteering, Martin was shocked to see the tattoos on some of the inmates and thought, “How could they get a job with those tattoos on their face?” She mentioned it to a friend, and that friend encouraged her to go hear Father Greg Boyle, the Jesuit priest who heads up Homeboy Industries and who was speaking at a university not too far away.

Inspired by Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries

She approached Father Boyle after his speech, and he invited her to come to Los Angeles to check out Homeboy, and she did. ”I fell in love with what Father Boyle was doing and said we could do it too,” she says.

Martin went home, put together a board, and filed the articles of incorporation and the application to be a nonprofit. Within 35 days it had been approved. Her daughter’s mother-in-law, a doctor, agreed to be the medical director.

A deeply religious woman who attends mass everyday, Martin feels it’s the work of God. “Every time I said to God that I’d done something, he gave me an even bigger thing. It all just started falling into place.”

She took some of the insurance proceeds from her husband’s death and bought a $60,000 laser device. (Astanza Laser gave her a $15,000 discount on one of its machines.) A doctor friend and his wife, a nurse, along with another nurse agreed to join the board. She also got a CPA to volunteer.

Martin put Tattoo Removal Ink together on her own with friends and family

“Along the way I met with a whole bunch of agencies in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky – all people who deal with returning citizens,” Martin says. “Everybody loved the idea, but nobody wanted anything to do with it. I just did it on my own with friends and family and my husband’s money. He would have loved it.”

She gathered her group of two doctors, two nurses, two other friends and herself together, adopted the name Tattoo Removal Ink, and in early January a representative of Astanza Laser’s New Look Laser College arrived to conduct a two-day training course. Soon after that, they began their first official procedures in a 900 square-foot rented office space.

Service is by appointment only and comes through referrals from the jail, parole and probation, and inquiries on their website, which have dramatically increased thanks to publicity from a local television news story. The criteria for clients is that they must have been formerly incarcerated, and their tattoos must be on the face, neck or sometimes on an arm – if the person has a construction job and will wear T-shirts in the summertime.

Plans for pre-release tattoo removal programs in local prisons

The program is up and running, but the fundraising is still in the works. Expenses include $1,000 per month for rent, $600 per year for insurance and $6,000 per year for maintenance on the laser device (starting next year).

Board members have chipped in money for the rent and $10,000 for operations. Another board member donated $1,000, and other people have written checks for $250 here and there, says Martin. The hospital of one of the doctors on her board donated a treatment table.

Martin has applied for $5,000 grants from each of her three local counties and is planning to search for other grant opportunities.

By the end of the year she hopes to begin tattoo removals inside the jail where she volunteers. And one of her grade school classmates, who learned about the program through Facebook, plans to retire and be a laser technician at the jail.

The next step is to get lasers inside the area’s two other correctional facilities and start a GED program at the building where Tattoo Removal Ink operates. That way people can study for the GED and get their tattoos removed at the same time and place, which appeals to Martin who tutors inmates so they can pass the GED.

While she originally was hesitant to even enter a jail, working with inmates and returning citizen’s tattoos has become Martin’s passion and new purpose in life.

“This has been so much fun. I love project managing it. And I love the people we’ve been taking tattoos off of,” she says.

Denver area teacher creates TattooEmergency911 mobile tattoo removal business to benefit juvenile offenders

TattooEmergency911Jesus Bujanda has created TattooEmergency911, a mobile tattoo removal business that removes unwanted tattoos from juvenile offenders. It’s a model that others may wish to follow, and those who do may eventually be able to purchase a mobile clinic from him.

Bujanda, a Denver area resident and automotive technology high school teacher, was inspired by a nephew who had recently been released from prison and had his tattoos removed.

They had discussed the idea of starting a tattoo removal business at a family Thanksgiving dinner. By New Year’s, Bujanda’s wife had come up with the idea of using an ambulance which would be turned into a clinic and his 8-year-old daughter had come up with the name. Six months later he was in school learning how to be a laser tattoo removal technician.

That was about 18 months ago. Bujanda bought an ambulance, outfitted it so he could perform tattoo removal procedures and began searching for clients. He eventually got a contract with an agency that works with the state of Colorado and now does tattoo removals at three prisons and four transitional living facilities that cater to juvenile offenders. And it’s the youth he’s determined to help.

“A lot of kids make a lot of horrible choices,” he said. “I’ve been working with this population for the last 20 years, and I feel like I’ve kind of found my niche.”

Because he’s still teaching full time, Bujanda does treatments in the evenings and on weekends.

“I have the majority of the state for juveniles,” he says. “As these kids get out, part of their parole is to take their tattoos off. They’re trying to find a job, but they can’t find a job with tattoos on their face. If they do the tattoo removal six months to a year ahead of time, it’s better.” And that’s what Bujanda is trying to do – take off tattoos before they leave prison.

Although he would like to “retire” to the tattoo removal business full time, that may take a while. His wife has opened a brick-and-mortar location that provides aesthetic and laser services, while he continues to teach.

“I don’t have enough clients to retire yet,” Bujanda says, but is hoping to get them by expanding his business to California. He’s establishing residency in Bakersfield and working with the Small Business Development Center there to bring his mobile tattoo services to the area.

He’s also taking classes on how to create proposals for federal funding and would like to work within the federal prison system as well.

In addition, Bujanda plans to create mobile tattoo units as part of his business and is already communicating with someone in Great Britain who is interested in having one designed.

“I’ll have all the software put in, the lasers installed and the rig completely ready to go,” he says.

“It is very difficult. I almost didn’t survive my first year. If you had to pay to build a rig like mine it would be super expensive. I was able to do 95% of the work myself.”

Having him provide the vehicle could save someone a lot of time, money and stress, Bujanda says. And it would be fully outfitted and ready to use.

For those who may want to put together their own rig, however, Bujanda says it will take a tremendous amount of research. And then things don’t always work out.

It’s possible to buy a retired ambulance with relatively low mileage. “Some ambulances from rural areas aren’t used that much, so they might retire them at 30,000 miles or up to 100,000 miles, and they’re very well maintained,” he says.

You may find a dealer for one of these used ambulances by searching online for “used ambulance dealers.” There are also companies that will design and produce custom-ordered vehicles for medical uses. One mobile tattoo unit used Quality Vans of Tempe, Ariz., for example. Other similarly specialty vehicles producers can be located by searching the member’s directory of NTEA, The Association for the Work Truck Industry.

And nonprofits might want to team up with their county health department or other local medical organization, if it is one of the clinics that operates a mobile health program. There are an estimated 2,000 of these programs across the U.S. Mobile Health Map offers details on 700 of them.

Meanwhile, when it comes to equipment Bujanda recommends buying a laser device from a company that has a technician in town, or at least close by, if possible. That way if something goes wrong you won’t have to fly someone in to fix it.

The interior was one of his biggest challenges, mainly because the man who he hired to do it got sick, so Bujanda had to learn how to do the work, including the electricity, himself.

And he purchased the wrong flooring. “It looked really nice when I first put it in, but what looks good in a doctor’s office takes a lot of maintenance,” he says.

But in the end, he has his rig. “You really have to sit down and understand what you’re doing. It’s all trial and error.”

 

National Gang Center Newsletter focuses on gang tattoos

National Gang CenterThe summer issue of the National Gang Center Newsletter provides a basic education on gang tattoos – their importance to members, their meaning and symbolism, and where they can be found on a member’s body.

And it also mentions the Jails to Jobs’ free and low-cost tattoo removal program directory on our website for those former gang members who want their tattoos taken off.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the National Gang Center provides gang-related information and resources to state, local and tribal jurisdictions.

Gang tattoo tutorial

Although tattoos have been around for thousands of years and have been symbols of everything from religion to punishment, few provide the significance or stigma of gang tattoos, according to the article.

It then goes to explain the meaning of various elements of gang tattoos. For example, Chicago’s Vice Lords sport 312, their local area code. And many Hispanic gangs use the number 13, in reference to M, the 13th letter of the alphabet, signifying the Mexican Mafia.

Whether on the face, hands, neck or other body part, where tattoos are located can be important to some gangs.

The article includes photos of the tattoos common among major gangs, including the Crips, the Bloods, the Surenos and MS-13.

It also describes types of tattoos that are used by both gang members and non-gang members alike. One of these, the spider web, can signify that the wearer has served time and is trapped in the criminal justice system web.

Three black dots may either symbolize the holy trinity or a hospital, cemetery or prison, the three destinations gang members are likely to end up.

How to find a free or low-cost tattoo removal program

The article concludes with a box explaining that gang tattoos can make it difficult to find a job, because employers are reluctant to hire those who have them. It also states that: “Although there has been a general proliferation of tattoo-removal services, locating gang-tattoo-removal programs is a continuing challenge for many communities.”

The box then highlights the fact that our tattoo removal program directory includes those that offer gang (and anti-social) tattoo removal and that the directory has more than 220 programs in 40 states.

If any readers know of any free or low-cost tattoo removal programs that aren’t included in our directory, please let us know, and we’ll add them.

 

New book outlines how to create a tattoo removal program

create a tattoo removal programJails to Jobs has published another book, and this one is a how-to guide on setting up a free or low-cost tattoo removal program.

Whether you’re a nonprofit, medical professional, tattoo artist, prison official, sheriff’s department employee or other interested party, Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low-Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide can help you help those leaving prison or jail or a gang get their lives back together.

One of the greatest challenges previously incarcerated and former gang members face is having anti-social or gang-related tattoos. And the thousands of hits we get on our website’s national directory of free and low cost tattoo removal programs tells us that many of them want those tattoos taken off.

That is why we wrote the guide. The inspiration came partly from the number of hits on our directory. But it also came from the fact that in putting together the directory, we realized just how few of these tattoo removal programs exist and the desperate need for this type of service. It can help those reentering society, leaving gangs and gaining freedom from human trafficking heal, transform and become employed.

Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide offers an extensive amount of information on topics such as why people get tattoos to begin with and what hiring managers think about those who have them. It also covers the types of laser devices and tips on how to find a location for a program, recruit volunteers, estimate costs and secure funding, and determine necessary equipment and supplies.

There are success stories of those who have had their tattoos removed and case studies of free or low-cost tattoo removal programs to inspire others who may want to start one themselves.

The guide includes a variety of tattoo removal program models, from hospital and prison (and jail) pre-release programs to those operated by nonprofits, individual doctors and churches. For organizations that would like to establish a program but can’t afford their own equipment, we recommend a “pop-up program” in partnership with a medical professional, tattoo removal technician, a laser rental company that can provide or source the medical professional, or someone else who can do the procedures.

Included are directories of laser device companies and their products, laser rental companies, schools that teach tattoo removal procedures and professional associations. There’s also a list of potential partners, advice from those who have operated successful tattoo removal programs and a section covering legal liability.

An appendix includes sample forms that can be tailored for use by other programs.

Copies of Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide are available through amazon.com.

 

Laser device company assists free and low cost tattoo removal efforts

laser deviceLaser device companies can play a leading role in the effort to help formerly incarcerated individuals remove their gang-related and antisocial tattoos.

To find out how they can do that, just ask Nick Bergman, director of QuantaCares at Quanta Aesthetic Lasers, a company that, through its QuantaCares program, gives practitioners who perform free or low-cost tattoo removals a break in the price of their devices.

“We have found that there is a tremendous need for tattoo removal for those transitioning from jails to productive society. There is good data that supports the idea that a reduction in visible tattoos supports a reduction in recidivism. Because of that, we offer incentives to those willing to help,” Bergman says.

“Without getting into exact numbers, we offer sizable discounts for individuals who want to make a difference with this population. This can include, but isn’t limited to, removing antisocial or gang-related tattoos. There are also sex trafficking victims who have been tattooed or branded. Laser tattoo removal has helped these victims, and this is the foundation of QuantaCares.”

Laser device company creates Quanta Cares initiative

After helping numerous individuals in the past, including Dawn Maestas, on an ad hoc basis, Quanta Aesthetic Lasers has formalized its efforts into the QuantaCares initiative.

This initiative supports potential customers who are willing to commit to doing a small amount of pro bono work – typically two cases per month. These partners then send before and after pictures along with a brief background story after the treatment is completed.

laser device

The idea for QuantaCares came from Nick Bergman, who now directs the program.

The idea for QuantaCares came from Bergman, who was involved in the corrections industry in a previous job.

“That job required me to visit numerous correctional facilities in the U.S. and Canada, where I discovered there are alarmingly high rates of incarceration and recidivism by any measure,” says Bergman. “A few years later, I transitioned to Quanta. I had read a few stories about how much tattoo removal had changed the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals. With QuantaCares, we can make a measurable difference in the lives of others.”

Another part of the company’s QuantaCares efforts concerns pre-release tattoo removal programs.

“We are in the process of developing a curriculum to share with correctional institutions,” Bergman says.

Creating pre-release programs

“We’d like to not only provide facilities with the tools needed to remove tattoos, but give inmates the desire to have employment-hindering tattoos removed. Statistics show that inmates who reoffend, if they have visible tattoos, reoffend more quickly. If we can help people understand the value in removing ink from their hands and face, I believe that it can only help the success of this program,” Bergman adds.

Bergman believes that laser device companies should be committed to playing an important social role.

“In my opinion, laser companies have a tremendous responsibility to make efforts that their devices are being used responsibly not only from a liability standpoint, but from a social standpoint as well,” he says.

“That said, we can only do so much. When push comes to shove, it is those who are operating the lasers who are making the true difference and we are doing our best to support them.”

How to become a QuantaCares program member

If you are interested in being among those supported and are truly committed to helping others, you can apply to become a member of the QuantaCares program by emailing Bergman at nbergman@quantausa.com. You will receive an application that asks for basic information, as well as your business plan and motivation for getting involved.

By becoming part of the QuantaCares program, you too will be able to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

 

Tattoo artist Jeff Goyette helps others learn tattoo removal

Jeff Goyette, tattoo removal expert.

Jeff Goyette.

Getting anti-social or gang-related tattoos removed can be a first step on the road to employment. And many people appear interested in doing just that, based on the thousands of hits we’ve gotten on the directory of free and low cost tattoo removal programs that is on our website.

In compiling the listings for the website over the past several years, what we’ve discovered is that there aren’t nearly enough of these programs.. Although some states, mainly California, have many programs in all of its major cities, 11 states and the District of Columbia have none at all.

But as the word spreads about the need for this type of program, more people are stepping onboard. Rhode Island is the latest state to be listed in our directory, thanks to Jeff Goyette, a well known tattoo artist who owns Inflicting Ink Tattoo and Removal in Portsmouth, RI, and is a co-founder of and the head instructor at A Laser Academy, which offers courses in tattoo removal.

He’s been a tattoo artist for 25 years and early on developed an interest in tattoo removal as well.

“I ended up getting involved in the tattoo removal industry because so many people were wanting cover-ups,” he said. “We ended up getting to know so much about the tattoo removal process and purchased a laser for tattoo removal in 1998-99.”

“We found there was very little information about this and started looking into the pigments and whether the inks play a major role in why some tattoos were easier to remove than others.“

Goyette became so knowledgeable that he started to do training for customers of  laser device company Quanta USA, and four years ago he opened A Laser Academy in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., to train even more people. He also conducts classes at his Rhode Island studio and in Henderson, Nev., a suburb of Las Vegas.

The three-day course covers all aspects of the tattoo removal process, including laser safety, the proper techniques necessary to fire a medical class 4 laser, the types of ink used in tattoos, the proper use of wave lengths, how to perform a proper consultation and post-treatment care.

About 40% of the academy’s students is tattoo artists, 40% is young people looking for new opportunities for employment, and the other 20% is physicians assistants and doctors. Very few of them already have any previous experience with tattoo removal.

As part of his tattoo removal practice, Goyette offers low-priced removals.

“We do special pricing if people really need the help,” he says “We won’t help if someone has an ex girlfriend’s name they want taken off, but if they have Nazi symbols or gang-related tattoos, we’ll do it.”

Goyette once offered pre-release tattoo removal to inmates at a prison and is interested in possibly doing that again, provided he could get some funding to run the laser.

Helping tattoo artists, medical professionals, doctors, nonprofits and others launch free or low-cost tattoo removal programs, including those for pre-release inmates, is something that we at Jails to Jobs are also working on. Our soon-to-be-released Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low-Cost Community Based Program, A How-to Guide will give those interested the basics. And we hope to secure funding to help create more programs in prisons and elsewhere around the U.S.

If anyone would like more information about our Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low-Cost Community Based Program, A How-to Guide, please contact us. For those who are interested, it is available on Amazon.

 

Travis County Jail launches pre-release tattoo removal program

The Travis County Jail has had many inmates interested in participating in its new pre-release tattoo-removal program.

The Travis County Jail’s new pre-release tattoo-removal program is popular among its inmates.

While pre-release tattoo removal programs may be one of the best ways to give inmates the confidence they will need to start a new life post release, surprisingly few exist. In fact, we have only been able to identify five such programs in the entire country.

A new program at the Travis (Texas) County Jail, however, may provide a model for other correctional institutions to follow. The program was launched in early September as a unique partnership between the jail and the Austin-based Texas Laser & Aesthetics Training Academy, whose staff members donate their time for free.

The effort was the brainchild of Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton. “He brought us the idea, but it took quite a while to get the licensing to do it and be a traveling tattoo removal program,” says Katie Beck, the laser academy’s co-owner and clinic director.

Now that the licensing is in place, Beck and one of her head instructors travel to the jail every other week with a portable tattoo removal device. Wheeling their device into its medical facility, they spend six hours at the prison, during which they see about 25 patients.

The program is publicized in the jail’s programs area, where inmates go for GED and work readiness classes, and anyone can participate.

“They’re chosen just by request. We’re not turning anyone down,” says Kathryn Geiger, the Travis County Sheriff’s Department’s director of medical services.

The week before the procedures are performed, the Travis County Jail requires that participants undergo a physical examination by the jail’s medical provider. “They have to make sure that their body is capable of absorbing the dye,” says Geiger. “If they’re on any medicines that make them photo sensitive, they’ll stop those seven days before the procedure.”

The jail’s medical staff also requires those who receive treatment to come back the following day to meet with a wound care specialist, who ensures that the tattoo removal site is healing properly. They are also reminded to avoid the sun and keep the area moist with antibiotic cream.

Most of the tattoos are not particularly difficult to remove, according to the laser academy’s Beck. “These tattoos are usually homemade, so the depth of the ink is much easier to get at than ink that is very deeply inside of the dermis. It’s mostly prison tattoos,” she says.

Although the program is still new, follow-up treatments have already been scheduled with one former inmate who has been released. Any participant whose treatments haven’t been completed by the time they’re out can make additional appointments at the laser academy free of charge.

“They’re going to be my models for the classes. Not everyone wants students to work on them, but these guys are perfectly willing,” Beck says, confirming that the tattoo removal program has benefits for her school as well as the jail and its inmates.

Thus far, the program has been an overwhelming success. “Within the first week, we already had 97 requests,” said Geiger. “Even the officer staff has come and asked if we can start doing this for them.”

As the word spreads, more and more inmates are expected to want to participate. And many have stories that tell how important it is to them to get rid of their ink.

Here’s just one from Geiger.

“An inmate was sitting there listening to the presentation and left for the restroom,” she says. “He came out and said, ‘I wasn’t going to do this, but I went into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror. I saw the teardrops and didn’t want to see them anymore.’”

Another inmate had a different reason that touched Beck.

“One gentleman is just 19 years old. He said he’s afraid he might be deported and doesn’t want to get killed by the cartel if he’s released,” she says.

That’s just one more reason why pre-release tattoo removal programs might be the solution for a variety of potential problems that inmates could face post-release.

For those thinking of starting a pre-release tattoo removal program of their own, Beck and Geiger have some advice:

  • The state licensing for operating a mobile tattoo unit can be the hardest part, so you have to check with your state and see what the requirements are. Every state is different, but they all have a certain amount of bureaucracy, and that’s where you have to start.
  • Look into your community to find other organizations or institutions you may want to partner with.
  • Reach out to laser and aesthetic providers who might want to volunteer to perform the tattoo removals and/or the follow-up for free.

If anyone has any questions, please contact us, and we can refer you to the people who operate the Travis County Jail’s program.