Getting a Tattoo in Prison

Getting a Tattoo in Prison

Once in prison, it seems like your life is over. Time stands still when you’re there. If you have a short sentence the months turn into years and years turn into decades, or so it seems. For those serving life sentences, life goes on. They don’t sit around and wish to die, well maybe some do, but for the most part they continue on with their journey. They make the best of a bad situation.

One thing that never goes away in prison, well three things, toilet wine, gang members and prison tattoos. That’s right, even in prison they get tattoos. The open sign is always on and the ink is always flowing. Sure it might not have the same germ free and sterilized environment as a regular parlor, but it does the trick for most.

Throughout the years, the popularity of prison ink has grown. It’s grown so much that it’s almost become a competition and the average prison tattoos are beginning to look more and more professional as the years and advancements go on.

Prison Tattoo Equipment

The hardest part of the tattooing process is the gun itself. It’s not easy collecting certain materials that aren’t allowed in prison and combining them all into one needle poking, ink flowing machine.

The first part of the gun you need is a motor. Most of these can be found in an old CD player or tape player. Either one of those can be found at the prison store. After a motor has been purchased the next step is to tie and empty pen barrel to the motor. Most inmates use a spring out of a stapler for the needle portion of the gun. They will often sharpen it with sandpaper. The needle then runs through the pen like you’re holding it just like you would with any writing utensil.

Prison Tattoo Sterilization

For sterilization the only thing they use is fire and that seems to kill off almost anything that might be lingering on the needle. For the ink, the tattoo artist purchases a boot polish can, (also at the prison store) which he then fills up with baby oil. A small hole is put at the top of the can, and a wick is inserted. The oil is used to burn the wick, and soot will appear crusted over at the top of the can.

Finally, this soot is scraped off, placed on white paper and patted to remove any remaining baby oil residue. The inmate then takes the powdered soot, places it inside the top of a toothpaste tube, adds a drop of water and ink is created.

For all of this to actually work, fire or heat is needed and that isn’t easy to come by. Most will pop a socket and then stick a pencil and wire up to it, which will make a spark. Then tissue paper is placed against the spark and bang, fire is made.

All of this can be time consuming and takes quite a bit of work but if you happen to be serving a life sentence you don’t have much else on your plate to be doing.