by Jacob Barrett
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) began advertising for a new position in April 2022: A professional tattoo artist.
The new hire will serve prisoners from a tattoo parlor being opened at Stillwater Correctional Facility (STF). It is part of an effort to combat the spread of bloodborne diseases. In January 2022, DOC said nearly 3,500 state prisoners were infected with Hepatitis-C. Many got it from unsanitary homemade tattoo guns, which are fashioned from ballpoint pens and motors pried from small appliances, like beard trimmers.
Even at the advertised pay rate of $59,000 to $87,000 per year, DOC officials say the new position is a bargain. Between 80 to 100 state prisoners are infected with hepatitis-C every year, and their treatment costs $20,000 – $75,000 each.
“By reducing the potential for transmission of bloodborne diseases,” said DOC spokesman Nick Kimball, “we are creating a safer environment for everyone, including our staff, and also being more prudent with taxpayer dollars.”
Moreover, prisoners will be able to learn the art of tattooing and get licensed. That will provide them future employment potential after their release. As Kimball pointed out, “the tattoo industry is one field where [job] opportunities can be found.”
“So creating a licensed tattoo establishment in our prisons to offer a path to becoming a licensed tattoo technician will provide another potential employment opportunity upon release for those who participate,” he said, “with the goal of reducing recidivism.”
“If they can turn those talents and skills into a legitimate viable healthy and pro-social kind of business this makes sense,” agreed state Commissioner of Corrections Paul Schnell — who is not to be confused with a popular South Florida tattoo artist by the same name.
Applicants for the job must have a license and at least three years of tattooing experience. They must also be willing to travel at least 15% of the time, presumably to other state prisons. DOC adds that “experience in a carceral setting” is also preferred.
Sources: CBS News Minnesota, KMSP, St. Paul Pioneer Press
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