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The History of Prison Tattoos

As mentioned earlier, many cultures during various periods of tattoo history would mark their criminals with ink. This history has created a unique tattoo art culture in various prison systems. One of the more common genres of ink in prisons is gang tattoos.

Depending on the gang, the artwork could be used to show the personís devotion to the gang. They could be used to identify which gang you are a member of. Or the ink could be used to display your accomplishments or rank in the gang. Many marks have secret codes and hidden meanings.

Tattoo art in the United States is illegal in prisons. Since the inmates do not have access to equipment needed to practice the art of prison tattoos, they have to get creative and use things like pencils, staples and paper clips to inject the ink.

They also need to be inventive to create the dyes. Ink from pens, soot and melted plastic are all used to make the pigments. Unfortunately, the crude tools expose the prisoners to hepatitis and HIV. Prisoners need to hide their work or they will be charged with more crimes on top of their current sentence.

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