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.


New Career One Stop site provides help for ex-offender job seekers

careeronestoplogo_tcm24-129Career One Stop – sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration – has created Job Search Help for Ex-offenders, an excellent resource for anyone with a record who is looking for work.

The site is basically a one-stop shop for just about everything one would need to know about conducting a job search, with tips and advice on how to find one.

Know your interests

The site is organized in several sections. People may want to start with Know Your skills. It includes a chart that matches various interests with job opportunities. Click on a job type, and you’ll find out how many people are employed in that job, wages they receive and the duties of the job, as well as typical training and also a link to job listings for each particular job which can be sorted by Zip Code.

Not exactly sure what your interests are? The site has you covered with a link to an interest assessment you can take online. It only includes 60 questions and can be completed in about five minutes.

Explore opportunities based on your interest

The assessment is just the beginning. A personalized profile will be generated and then you’ll be asked to decide how much job preparation you have or would like to have. Once you determine that, you can click on a link that will give a list of jobs. Each one has information concerning the knowledge and skills needed for that job, personality traits that make someone good at the work and the technology they might need to know how to use to do it.

Skills developed in prison

A job skills section highlights skills that one might have developed in the type of work that prisons offer – things like food service, welding, machining and sewing. A skills checklist covers soft skills like dependable, creative, flexible, honest, friendly and hard working, all skills that will be appreciated in any employment situation.

Learn about careers

The section on learning about careers talks about the difference between a job and a career and how to decide the steps to take in pursuing a career. An explanation on work restrictions gives general information about what types of jobs might be off limits to those with criminal records.

A useful link to the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, a state-by-state database of laws related to criminal convictions and employment. Just click on your state on the map and you can find out what laws apply to specific job types.

Another list provides ideas of common jobs that one might be able to obtain after being released from prison.

Setting career goals

A section on setting career goals offers tips on how to create short-term and long-term goals to set you on the pathway of long-term employment. A downloadable goal terminal with things to do and dates they should be completed is a way to keep on track.

A database to help ex-offenders find training in community college settings is searchable by occupation, school or program, as well as Zip Code to find the programs nearest you.

Those who would like help from a professional job counselor can search a database for the American Job Center (formerly Career One-Stop Center), which has free counseling, workshops, and skills training and testing, nearest you.


Root and Rebound guides employers in hiring the formerly incarcerated

Sonja Tonnesen, Alton (Coach) McSween, and Katherine Katcher

Root and Rebound’s Deputy Director Sonja Tonnesen, community partner Alton “Coach” McSween, and Founder & Executive Director Katherine Katcher.

Root and Rebound, a Berkeley, Calif., based legal advocacy nonprofit organization, has published the Guide for California Employers: Hiring People With Criminal Records.

Using a question-and-answer format, this 13-page guide lays out all the basics that California employers interested in hiring those with criminal records need to know. It covers everything from what they can and can’t ask applicants based on federal and California state law to the ins and outs of background checks.

It includes advice on how to weigh the risk of hiring someone with a criminal record, while at the same time protecting their rights. There’s a special section on benefits and incentives for employers that includes such things as the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Federal Bonding Program. It’s available for free on the Root & Rebound website.

Root & Rebound is a legal advocacy organization completely focused on reentry. “As far as we know, we’re the only legal advocacy organization devoted solely on improving the lives of newly released people across many areas of law,” says Sonja Tonnesen, deputy director.

“We’re reentry generalists—we advocate for laws to be fairer, and to support people with criminal records in achieving stability. Like a general practitioner is in the medical field, we ask holistically what a reentering person’s needs are to be healthy and stable, and we work alongside our clients to create realistic reentry and advocacy plans that will support their success and achieve their goals.”

The idea for the Guide for Employers came about from dealing with an employer who wanted to hire one of Root & Rebound’s clients but had a lot of questions about the legal implications. So the staff members decided to create a manual to help others who would need the same type of information.

The nonprofit was started in October 2013 by Founder & Executive Director Katherine Katcher and Tonnesen, two recent graduates of the University of California Berkeley School of Law. Their goal is to reduce barriers and maximize opportunities for those in reentry. They also work with a senior advisor who is ar reentry attorney based in Los Angeles and a growing legal and support team.

Katcher and Tonnesen spent last fall meeting with professionals – other attorneys social service providers, formerly incarcerated advocates, academics and other reentry-focused individuals – to better understand the needs and gaps in reentry and to create a strategic plan. They began taking on clients at the beginning of 2014.

Expecting to take on only five clients in its first year, by mid-summer they had represented nearly 15 individuals on their legal issues in reentry, as well as provided legal advice and information to many others.

The organization’s next big project is a “Legal Rights in Reentry” manual intended for those in reentry and their advocates—the first of its kind in California, and one of the first in the country. The manual covers eight areas of law—employment, housing, obtaining identification and other key documents, credit and debt (related to a conviction), family law, probation and parole, public benefits and continuing education.

Some of the information in the manual is a direct result of what the attorneys learned in their dealings with clients as they helped them face the multitude of roadblocks they encounter.

The manual will be available on Root & Rebound’s website in November or December. The organization plans to do a training program connected to the manual with workshops at government agencies and other nonprofits that interface with people who were formerly incarcerated.

To learn more about what Root and Rebound is all about, visit the organization’s website at.


Chicago-area tattoo removal organization creates mobile unit


Chris Baker of Ink 180.

Ink 180 of Oswego, Ill., has launched a mobile tattoo-removal unit. The unit, which consists of an RV and two retired ambulances, travels to sites around inner city Chicago on a weekly basis.

Chris Baker, the organization’s founder, operates a tattoo shop as well as a nonprofit organization that does free tattoo removals and cover-ups, in which he imposes a beautiful tattoo on top of already existing ink.

“Seventy percent  of the work I do is free,” he says. “It’s tattoo removal and tattoo cover-ups for former gang members, former inmates, victims of sex trafficking and victims of domestic violence.  I also do cover-ups for people who cut themselves.”

About one-quarter of the procedures he performs are cover-ups; the rest removals. “I don’t do any cover-up work on the hands or the neck, and that’s where most of the gang tattoos are,” Baker says. “We want people to go out and get a job. In the tattoo industry we call those tattoos job killers.”

Making it mobile

Baker is an outreach pastor who does street ministry in Chicago. He looks at his tattoo removal work and the mobile unit as an extension of this.

The idea for the mobile unit came about during a meeting last summer between Baker and the Illinois Health Department to discuss a new facility for his tattoo business. Department officials suggested a mobile unit. Although a good idea, it was something Baker thought might happen in the distant future. But thanks to the donation of an RV not too long afterwards, his organization was able to begin its mobile unit this spring.

Word spread, and soon Baker had received two more vehicles – retired ambulances. He and a group of volunteers go throughout the inner city of Chicago on a weekly basis and have also visited Detroit, Kansas City and Indianapolis.

How it works

A church, a ministry or other group will approach Ink 180 saying they have a number of people who want gang and other tattoos removed. He works with the churches to make it an event that may include various other organizations and providers offering services like GED preparation or dental care.

Tattoo removal appointments are made ahead of time, and he has two or three people ready to volunteer. He and his team can perform up to 20 removals per vehicle and have done a total of up to 60 removals per day.

Baker never charges for any of the tattoo removals or cover-ups done by the mobile unit or the nonprofit Ink 180 Ministry. He raises money from donations on his website and from the many churches and organizations where he does public speaking engagements. He also often receives donations from the clients of his for-profit tattoo business.

To learn more Chris Baker and Ink 180, visit the organization’s website at


Jails to Jobs writes how-to-create-a-tattoo-removal-clinic manual

nd_yag_mini_laser_tattoo_removal_machine_nd-506We were contacted not too long ago by a representative from Dr. Tattoff, a tattoo removal clinic chain, informing us that the company is opening a new clinic and is interested in removing tattoos of certain people free of charge, if those tattoos are preventing them from getting a job.

This clinic’s desire to offer pro bono tattoo removals supports our belief that there are many companies, nonprofits and individual doctors, nurses and tattoo artists out there who see a great need for this type of service and want to provide it.

In fact, we know the need is there. Our directory of free and low-cost tattoo removal clinics, which we launched last spring on our webste, along with the blog articles we’ve written about tattoo removal, get far and away the greatest number of hits of any subject we have ever written about. And they get many hits on a daily basis.

Our directory has more than 140 clinics in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Although more than 40% are in California, we’re hearing from people across the country about what they’re doing and that they want to be included in the directory. We are confident as time goes by more and more programs throughout the U.S. will be added to our directory.

Because there is such an interest in this subject, we have decided to write a manual on how to set up a free or low cost tattoo removal clinic or program. We’re hoping it will serve as a resource for anyone who might be interested in setting up such a program. Many of the people we’ve talked to as we do our research and write the case studies that will be included in this manual have told us that they are happy to talk to anyone who would like to start a program similar to theirs.

The case studies in the manual include everything from nonprofits working to keep youth out of gangs and city government gang intervention programs to a Seventh Day Adventist Church that previously had a program in Los Angeles and a small San Francisco suburb that includes tattoo removal as part of a job readiness program.

We hope that this manual will help connect organizations working in isolation and organizations just getting going to share information about the successes they’ve achieved and the challenges they face.

Although currently a work in progress, the manual will include:

  • A history of tattoo removal
  • The science behind the laser process and what makes it work.
  • Statistics on people who have tattoos and what others (including employers) think of them
  • Barriers that exist for people with visible tattoos
  • The process of getting tattoos removed
  • What questions patients and potential patients might ask
  • Manufacturers of tattoo removal laser devices and what they produce
  • Success stories from those who have had their tattoos removed
  • Tattoo removal laser device rental companies
  • Laser tattoo removal schools
  • Professional associations
  • Case studies of free and low-cost tattoo removal programs
  • Where to search for funding to start a clinic
  • Ideas of other services, such as resume writing and job readiness skills assistance, that can be included as part of the program
  • An online forum offering a community to share best practices and ideas and ask questions

If you know anybody who might want to contribute information to the manual or be the subject of one of our case studies, please contact us at


Jails to Jobs creates directory of U.S. tattoo removal facilities

There are a lot of people out there who have tattoos they’d like removed. We know this not only from studies that have been done but also from the fact that more people end up on the Jails to Jobs website by searching for “tattoo removal” than through any other search words.

For whatever reason people get tattoos in the first place, they often change their minds. It may be that they don’t want to identify with the stigma of an anti-social image or comment or gang affiliation anymore. Or they may be in reentry and want to remove that old prison tattoo. Or they may just not like the way their tattoo looks.

Visible tattoos – on the face, neck or hands – can be an impediment to finding a job. In fact, some job search experts say it’s the greatest impediment. After all, many hiring managers believe, right or wrong, that a tattoo might disturb potential fellow employees or scare customers away.

So if you’re looking for a job and decide you don’t want that visible tattoo any longer, there’s only one option. You have to get it taken off. Laser tattoo removal can be expensive, and in some areas tattoo removal clinics don’t even exist.

Because there is such an interest in laser tattoo removal by individuals visiting our website, and because there was no place to refer them to for such resources, we decided to create a Tattoo Removal Directory to help ex-offenders and others find a clinic that has a free program or at least one that they can afford.

Although our recently launched Directory of U.S. Tattoo Removal Clinics is still in beta and definitely a work in progress, it already has 140 clinics in 19 states, plus Washington, D.C.

You can search the directory by city, zip code or program name to find the one nearest you that meets your requirements. Most of these are designed to, at least in part, assist those with low incomes. Some give discounted rates or work on a sliding scale (depending on income or situation), and others are free of charge but may have age restrictions or a requirement that the person no longer be affiliated with a gang and/or require a certain number of hours of community service be performed by those who get their tattoo(s) removed.

Currently about 40 percent of the clinics listed are in California, but we’d like to expand to as many states as we can and include as many places as possible. If you work at a program that you would like to add to our database or know of one that you think should be included, there’s a link on the directory introduction page where you can fill out the information.

For those who actually use the directory to find a clinic, we would really appreciate feedback on your experience of getting your tattoo(s) removed.

To search our directory, visit