Drevno receives Jefferson Award for his work with Jails to Jobs tattoo removal program

Jefferson AwardMark Drevno, founder and executive director of Jails to Jobs, has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service for his work to help those leaving prison, ex-gang members and victims of human trafficking remove their visible anti-social tattoos.

The award, given by KPIX,  the San Francisco Bay Area CBS owned and operated television station, recognizes those who make a contribution to their local community. Drevno’s award was featured on both  KPIX-TV CBS television and KCBS radio.  Here is a link to the television video of the broadcast.

The Jefferson Awards were established in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Sam Beard to celebrate greatness in service.

Jails to Jobs tattoo removal program

Drevno, who founded Jails to Jobs in 2012, led the organization in its launch of a tattoo removal program. Based on the tremendous interest in articles focusing on tattoo removal on the organization’s website, Jails to Jobs had created a national directory of free and low-cost tattoo removal programs, which now has over 300 programs in 42 states. Since it was incorporated into the J2J website six years ago, the directory has helped thousands of people find tattoo removal programs that are free or low-cost.

In late 2017, Jails to Jobs took its tattoo removal efforts one step further by establishing its own program. The organization works with a number of local health care providers to remove visible anti-social and gang related tattoos from its clients.

In the first year or so since the program was launched, Jails to Jobs has been a resource for nearly 200 people in getting their tattoos removed. Those in the San Francisco Bay Area with anti-social or gang-related and human trafficking tattoos who would like to participate are welcome apply by email.

Once approved, they are set up with the first of what will be a series of appointments. It can take a number of sessions to remove tattoos, depending on how long a person has had a tattoo, whether it was done by an amateur or a professional, where it is located on someone’s body, skin type and the colors of the tattoo.

Benefits of tattoo removal

But no matter how long the process, tattoo removal is an essential step for intrinsically motivated individuals who have anti-social or gang-related tattoos. Without taking this step, it will be difficult for them to launch a new life and be successful in their search for employment and beyond.

We’ve learned that many of those who have gone through tattoo removal compare their experience to an awakening of sorts. Like the clearing of a new path, reconnecting with their best self. Washing away the symbols of an identity they no longer wish to embrace and freeing themselves. Freeing themselves for new opportunities. For a chance at employment. For many it offers the possibility to be a good role model, especially for their children and young relatives. To show them that there is a better way to live.

And Jails to Jobs is determined to be a resource in the process. In order to do that for an increasing number of people, the organization plans to expand its program by adding more health care providers and extra clinic days.

In the meantime, we’d like to thank CBS for recognizing us for the work we do.

Citizens Awards to recognize successful ex-offenders

CB063448While many people leave prison and go on to lead successful lives, few are formally recognized for their accomplishments. One New York nonprofit, Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc., is out to change that.

Since 2007, the organization has honored the successes of ex-offenders in New York City with its Citizen Awards, and the deadline for its 2013 competition is Sept. 14.

The awards have a motivation beyond mere recognition. “We want to change the perception of formerly incarcerated people,” says Mika’il DeVeaux, Citizens Against Recidivism’s co-founder and executive director. Past recipients have included people with doctorates, educational and religious leaders and directors of social programs.

In 2012, the winners included Cheryl Wilkens, the associate director of the Criminal Justice Initiative: Supporting Children, Families, and Communities (CJI) at the Columbia School of Social Work; Eddie Rosario, Associate Director of the Correctional Association of New York’s Prison Visiting Project; and Kevin Chiles, publisher of Don Diva magazine.

Nominees must have been out of prison for at least three years and do work that serves people who are disadvantaged, disenfranchised or marginalized. The recipients are all in the New York City area, because DeVeaux says they have no budget to fly the winners in, but his efforts may inspire others to launch a similar award program elsewhere.

Although there will be only five awards presented, nominations can be made in five different categories:

Freedom Fighter – For someone who works to gain rights for those incarcerated or previously incarcerated.

Advocacy Award – For someone who has advocated for change and helped to shape policy, legislation or regulations that affect those incarcerated or previously incarcerated.

Bridge Builder – For someone who has brought together diverse groups or individuals to help those incarcerated, previously incarcerated or affected by encounters with the criminal justice system.

Social Action – For someone who shows a commitment to social justice or through their community building efforts serves as an example of the spirit of social change.

Leadership in Education – For someone whose work facilitates the academic growth of or establishes policies or programs that benefit those incarcerated, previously incarcerated or affected by encounters with the criminal justice system.

Research and Scholarship – For someone whose research and/or scholastic achievements help increase the quality of life for those incarcerated, previously incarcerated or affected by encounters with the criminal justice system.

Spiritual Leadership – for someone whose efforts enhance the spirituality, character, ethics, attitudes and behaviors needed for positive human health and well-being by those incarcerated, previously incarcerated or affected by encounters with the criminal justice system.

Instructions for nominations can be found on the organization’s website.

The award ceremony will take place Nov. 9 at the Malxom X & Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in New York City.

Meanwhile, another organization, Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services in San Francisco, has been giving out similar awards for 11 years. Its 2013 In the Trenches Awards were presented in July.

There are five categories, but unlike the Citizens Awards, not all winners have to be ex-offenders. They must, however, be working to improve the lives of the formerly incarcerated. One award is given to an organization, and local government officials have been among past winners.

The purpose of both awards remains the same. “It is to break the stigma against formerly incarcerated people. To show the world that people can change,” says Frank Williams, director of the Ex-offender Senior Program at the Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Center.