Imprinting Tattoos

Can I ask you what sounds more appealing? A young man or woman breathing their last moments of air while they stare down the cold and dark barrel of a hand gun, or having a rubber band stretched past its limit of breakage, and released only to snap the bare flesh? Obviously people would choose the second option because of the sheer fear of facing the cold hand of death. But this is the reality that boundless gang members face in today’s society. Gang members are dying, they are losing friends and family members, and each and every one of those involved in a gang deprives themselves of a far better life. However, making it out of these organizations offers adolescents and young men and women with a less painful option. That option is tattoo removal, which is similar to snapping a rubber band against bare flesh.

Tattoos can bring forth several different meanings to the population that wishes to imprint a significant message or permanent image upon their body. From the macho image and belonging it may give sailors, bikers, convicts and gang members to the therapeutic and permanent symbol it places upon one’s body. A 1990 survey of over 10,000 U.S. households estimated that nearly 3% of the general population sports tattoos and including 5% of all males (Libbon 1). But what is significant about the removal of these important images? The process of removal brings physical pain, but it is also brings emotional pain to the individual or party whose symbol becomes erased. While imprinting the tattoo of a gang upon one’s body brings forth a new sense of belonging and brotherhood and the removal is both emotionally and physically draining, the removal process allows for a far greater significance than the tattoo offered for members who seek more out of life.


Individuals go through a number of tough and demanding initiation processes to gain acceptance into a gang. Once they have attained membership, they are either forced to imprint a tattoo of the gang on their body or they take the initiative and display the gang’s images themselves. The main imprint and belongings are within the tattoo mark. The tattoo generally displays the name and/or symbol of the gang in Old English script with a variability of placements upon the body (Poljac 2). These strong artistic images represent commitment and loyalty and serve as a lasting bond and tie that are recognized by both ally gang members and rival gangs.

- Alex D.

Works Cited:

- Libbon, Robert P. “Dear Data Dog: Why do so many kids sport tattoos?” American Demographics. September (2000): n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.

- Poljac, Bakir, M.S. “Erasing the Past: Tattoo-Removal Programs for Former Gang Members.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin: Criminal Justice Periodicals. August
(2008):n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.

- Nawojczyk, Steve. Gang War: Bangin’ in Little Rock. 30 May. 2006. JPEG File.

-Laser tattoo removal "zaps" the ink molecules. 16 Nov. 2010. JEPG File.