A tattoo removal clinic in Henrico has created a program which involves community service in exchange for laser tattoo removal for ex-convicts.
Having a criminal record can often be a lifelong sentence in itself. Ex-con applicants routinely get rejected from jobs. Having tattoos of a checkered past removed helps former offenders secure work, which can get them on a straight path.
Maurice Ruffin is having four tattoos lasered off his face. Ruffin spent 11 years in jail for gang and street related crime. He's currently out from behind bars. Now, his toughest battle is getting hired, so he can support his family.
"Been clean, can't get a job, I guess because of my background. My past predicts my future," said Ruffin of the difficulty of finding employment.
Ruffin's facial tattoos aren't helping. While in jail, Ruffin had the names of his children and loved ones tattooed vertically across his cheeks.
"I need a job. I'm trying to change. I'm showing that I'm trying to change," continued Ruffin.
It's a change Chuck Powell is helping ex-offenders make permanently, by removing the permanent ink on obvious areas of their bodies.
"It just kind of fell into place, that I could give back and help," said Powell.
When ex-inmates put in volunteer hours, Powell gives them credit towards their tattoo removal at his East Coast Laser Tattoo Removal clinic.
"It's not a freebie. It's not a handout," continued Powell. "For every hour of documented volunteer work the client brings back to me, I give them a $10 credit towards the removal process."
Powell has helped more than a half dozen ex-offenders remove undesirable ink, since his clinic opened last year.
Other ex-inmates from across the state are also hoping to change their future, and are signing up with East Coast Laser Tattoo Removal. Powell has also received calls from probation officers, looking to enroll offenders in the program.
"The public wins because we get work that's done in the community, that doesn't cost the government or the city government any money," added Powell.
The clinic also offers discounts on tattoo removal for members of the military and emergency responders.
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