California Model, Inside CDCR Video, Rehabilitation

Tattoo Removal Program erases signs of the past

Statewide service helps prepare for successful futures

The statewide Tattoo Removal Program offers incarcerated people the opportunity to have highly visible tattoos removed at no charge. These tattoos not only present a barrier to future employment, they also often symbolize a lifestyle that person has left behind.

TV Specialist Dave Novick recently visited Folsom State Prison where he met Jordan, who was preparing to start his tattoo removal session. Jordan graciously allowed Novick to film the process.

More people are having their tattoos removed through a CDCR contract with Ink Doctors. The organization facilitates mobile tattoo removal services at all CDCR institutions. Those receiving treatment watch a short educational video, apply ice to the area to be treated, then receive treatment. A laser will be used to break up pigment colors.

Depending on the size of the tattoo to be removed, the laser treatment can last several seconds to minutes. There is some pain so ointment and ice are applied to the treated area. Those who have received treatment are advised to use sunscreen and/or avoid sun exposure to the treated area.

Requirements for the program

In order to receive treatment, the incarcerated person must have highly visible tattoos on their face, hands, wrist, or neck. The requestor must not have received any tattoo-related rules violations within the last 12 months. Priority is given to people within two years of release and those who have demonstrated they are disassociating from gang activity.

The Tattoo Removal Program is in line with CDCR’s mission to facilitate the successful reintegration of people back to their communities after incarceration, equipped with the tools to be drug-free, healthy, and employable members of society.

It also illustrates a foundational pillar of the California Model – creating more normal prison environments that resemble life in the community to help people prepare for smoother transitions to community. Letting go of a highly visible symbol of one’s past is a major step to a more peaceful, positive future.

Learn more about the California Model on the CDCR website.

Watch CBS Bay Area’s coverage of the Tattoo Removal Program.