The summer issue of the National Gang Center Newsletter provides a basic education on gang tattoos – their importance to members, their meaning and symbolism, and where they can be found on a member’s body.
And it also mentions the Jails to Jobs’ free and low-cost tattoo removal program directory on our website for those former gang members who want their tattoos taken off.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the National Gang Center provides gang-related information and resources to state, local and tribal jurisdictions.
Gang tattoo tutorial
Although tattoos have been around for thousands of years and have been symbols of everything from religion to punishment, few provide the significance or stigma of gang tattoos, according to the article.
It then goes to explain the meaning of various elements of gang tattoos. For example, Chicago’s Vice Lords sport 312, their local area code. And many Hispanic gangs use the number 13, in reference to M, the 13th letter of the alphabet, signifying the Mexican Mafia.
Whether on the face, hands, neck or other body part, where tattoos are located can be important to some gangs.
The article includes photos of the tattoos common among major gangs, including the Crips, the Bloods, the Surenos and MS-13.
It also describes types of tattoos that are used by both gang members and non-gang members alike. One of these, the spider web, can signify that the wearer has served time and is trapped in the criminal justice system web.
Three black dots may either symbolize the holy trinity or a hospital, cemetery or prison, the three destinations gang members are likely to end up.
How to find a free or low-cost tattoo removal program
The article concludes with a box explaining that gang tattoos can make it difficult to find a job, because employers are reluctant to hire those who have them. It also states that: “Although there has been a general proliferation of tattoo-removal services, locating gang-tattoo-removal programs is a continuing challenge for many communities.”
The box then highlights the fact that our tattoo removal program directory includes those that offer gang (and anti-social) tattoo removal and that the directory has more than 220 programs in 40 states.
If any readers know of any free or low-cost tattoo removal programs that aren’t included in our directory, please let us know, and we’ll add them.
$10-$20 can make a difference and provide funding to send job search books to prison and jail libraries and expand our tattoo removal outreach.