Gangs have been a part of American society and culture since the early 1800s. Today gangs operate in every major city in America and the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that roughly 760,000 gang members exist nationwide, not including those currently incarcerated, belonging to motorcycle gangs or those in radical ideology/hate groups. Upon joining a gang, it is not uncommon for individuals to tattoo the name or symbol of their particular group. These symbols represent strong allegiance and serve as a lifelong bond that is difficult to break.
Many gang members come to decide to change their lifestyle, beginning the long and often dangerous process of gang disassociation. Removing gang tattoos can be a major part of that transformation. The cost and lack of access to the specialized equipment necessary to remove tattoos however, has not been widely available to those that need it. Those that are able to sever ties with a gang often find that their tattoos are a constant and unwelcome reminder of their former lives. These tattoos can also limit job opportunities and create problems in everyday life.
Recently, public officials nationwide have begun to develop new and creative ways to help address gang-related problems in their communities. These programs can help reformed criminals get a fresh start; free of charge.
Programs exist across a wide spectrum; from privately run organizations such as the Agape Light Tattoo Removal Program operated by a doctor and his local church in L.A. to the government funded Skindeep Tattoo Removal Program in Fairfax County, Virginia.
In order to qualify for the laser tattoo removal treatments, the former gang-members must meet certain requirements. Although these requirements differ between programs, they do universally require that the gang member cease all involvement or association with the gang and enter some form of counseling. Community service is also typically a requirement.
The Clean Slate Program
Based in San Jose California, Clean Slate accepts individuals between the age of 14 and 25 and requires 40 hours of community service. The program also requires that they attend school, have a job or participate in a vocational training program.
Skindeep Tattoo Removal Program
One of the more well-known programs, Skindeep Tattoo Removal is funded in part by the local government of Fairfax County, Virginia. In order to qualify for the program, individuals must be 22 years old or younger and be sponsored by an adult such as a teacher, probation officer or social worker. Participants must take part in some form of school, complete 40 hours of community service and must have or be actively seeking employment.
Salt Lake Area Gang Project
Located in Salt Lake City, Utah this program does not require participants to be enrolled in school or to have a job before applying. This is due to the recognition that visible gang tattoos can impair the job hunt. In addition the program makes no distinction on age, as older gang members are more likely to break ties with their organizations. Participants must not be incarcerated and be released from probation or parole for a least a year before entering the program.
Many other programs exist in cities across the U.S., and regardless of the program participants must be determined to succeed and willing to pledge time and energy. Laser tattoo removal is not only a length process; it can also be very painful. Despite this, many former gang members seek these programs to have a chance at a new life, free from their criminal past.Tags: Gang Tattoo Removal, gang tattoo removal programs