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Homeboy Industries Removes Tattoos For Former Gang Members And Released Prisoners

Fore more than a decade, Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries has been working with former gang members and recently released prisoners to help them assimilate into society. A new VICE video highlights one of the many services offered by Homeboy Industries: tattoo removal.

Homeboy Industries first came about in the 1980s thanks to Father Greg Boyle.

Credit: VICE / Facebook

Father Greg, along with several community members, decided to fight against the gang lifestyle by offering young people educational opportunities and legitimate employment. Homeboy Industries offers an array of job placement programs, such as a solar panel training program. It also established a bakery where many former gang members work. They’ve also opened up a day care center and elementary school.

As Homeboy Industries has grown, so to have the needs of those the organization serves.

Credit: VICE / Facebook

Homeboy Industries offers former gang members more than just tattoo removal services. The organization tried to make sure that those leaving gangs can do so safely and offers them employment. Homeboy Industries has given former gang members employment in myriad ways, including through a network of bakeries and coffee shops. There are even salsas and tortilla chips sold in stores across southern California created by Homeboy Industries to give those in their system a chance to turn their lives around.

But the most popular service offered by Homeboy Industries is the tattoo removal.

Credit: VICE / Facebook

According to its official website, Homeboy Industries performs 3,000 tattoo removals for 950 clients a month. It can take up to a year for a tattoo to be completely removed.

It should also be noted that removing your tattoos is a painful process and not something people take lightly. Those who seek out Homeboy Industries have a clear mission: reassimilation into society. Their reasons vary but the desired end result is the same. These are people who have seen what their current life is bringing them and have decided that they don’t want to follow that path.

And it doesn’t matter which body part you have tattooed – they’ll get rid of it.

Credit: VICE / Facebook

There are 35 certified volunteer doctors on hand to help remove that gang-related ink from arms, chests and even eyelids. “It’s like having an elastic band whack you in the same spot about 20 times a second,” physician assistant Troy Clarke told VICE. “The girls deal with pain better than the boys. They’ve got higher pain thresholds, for obvious reasons.”

The service is free and offered to anyone enrolled at Homeboy Industries. “Walk-in community members” are also welcomed.

Credit: VICE / Facebook

Many people, like the woman above, just want to be better role models for their children. Getting rid of visible gang tattoos is the first step on a long road.

Congratulations, everyone. It is a hard and long road to get out of the gang life and into mainstream society but you are doing it. We are so proud of you and the work you are putting into the process. Keep it up.

Check out the full VICE video here.

READ: This Ex-Gang Member Used To Run The Streets Of L.A., Now He’s An Emmy-Nominated Actor

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