Inmates leaving gangs, stripping tats for jobs, better lives

Gang tattoos
Posted at 8:33 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 08:33:04-05

WHEATON, Ill. (AP) — A novel gang-cessation and jobs program at a Chicago-area jail is giving inmates a chance to escape their gang lives.

They're also able to take advantage of a greater willingness among businesses to hire ex-inmates amid pandemic-driven labor shortages.

A focus of the program at the DuPage County Jail is a new tattoo-removal wing where program participants remove or cover their gang tattoos to prove they're serious about wanting out of their gangs.

By forsaking their previous lives, they risk reprisal from gangs to which they swore lifelong loyalty.

The program includes classes on horticulture, welding and other trades.

Participants hope new job opportunities and other benefits of disentangling themselves from lives of violence will outweigh the risks.