Ex-criminals seek program to erase tattoos

Posted at 12:48 PM, Mar 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-07 19:08:21-05

While many people believe body ink is an art, others think people with tattoos are criminals. 

Some formerly incarcerated individuals trying to forge a new pathway have had trouble getting a job because of their ink.

Now, there is a program for those individuals who want to remove their controversial tattoos. 

"I got involved with some people and I was dating somebody and kind of got into a life of crime for a couple of years," said Alisha, a previous convict. 

After several laser treatments, Alisha barely has any sign left of a name tattooed on her neck. Alisha wants to turn her life around and the tattoo was a turn off to potential employers. 

Michaela, also a previous convict, regrets getting a homemade tattoo behind bars during her time in prison. 

"I was incarcerated on drug distribution charges," said Michaela.

Michaela says the mark and stigma of the homemade jail tattoo are a constant reminder of her time on the inside. 

"It was already a hard enough time to try and find a job with the background history that I already have," said Michaela. "Appearance also makes a very big difference." 

Michaela and Alisha are getting help through the Tattoo Removal Incentive Program or "T.R.I.P."

Probation officer Diana Kerns and her partner at the Topeka Police Department came up with the idea three years ago because of one of her clients. 

"A client who was struggling to find a job finally gained employment because of the program," said Kerns. "It's the first time in his life that it's been a positive change to where he can support himself and his family and he's not worried about someone judging him." 

Aestheticare in Leawood, Kansas helps clients get rid of tattoos with images that depict gang affiliations or anti-social marks.  

"We could help them if they have tattoos on their face or on their hands, where it's visible during a job interview," said Matt Taranto, president at Aestheticare. 

Aestheticare removes the tattoos at a cost of $25 per session. A typical removal costs upwards of $400 for each visit and at least six treatments are usually needed. 

Clients participating in T.R.I.P. are required to go through an extensive screening process and perform community service hours for the discounted rate. They must also be clean and sober. 

For more information on T.R.I.P., contact Diana Kerns 785-338-5617  or Cpl. Ruben Salamanca 785-368-9551.


Jane Monreal can be reached at

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