Prison to open tattoo parlour with £44k artist to stop inmate blood infections

A prison is to hire an inhouse tattoo artist to ink prisoners in a bid to ward off rising cases of Hepatitis C infections.

The job would be based out of the Stillwater prison in Minnesota, and would pay between $58,000 (£44,400) to $86,000 (£65,950) annually.

It's part of an innovative new project in Minnesota prisons, where the Minnesota Department of Corrections will create a pathway for inmates to become licensed tattoo technicians, creating job opportunities after they are released.

"If they can turn those talents and skills into a legitimate viable healthy and pro-social kind of business this makes sense on the one hand," said Paul Schnell, commissioner of corrections.

Illegal tattoos are a problem, contributing to more than 80 cases of Hepatitis C each year among inmates across the state, Fox reported.

The cost of treating the infection costs between $20,000 (£15,340) to $75,000 (£57,520) per person.

The official job title on the state website reads: "In this position you will lead a pilot project for the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) establishing a tattoo/body art studio within Minnesota correctional facilities.

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"You will serve as the expert technical resource for other project and agency staff involved in the design and implementation of the body art pilot project so that a licensed body art studio is established and incarcerated men and women are trained and supervised in the art of tattooing."

Before an official tattoo artist came to Schrassig, Luxembourg's only prison, inmates would dream up dangerous and unsanitary ways of getting inked.

"Prisoners actually used everything they could," Mike Conrath, who works in the jail's medical clinic, told Vice Germany two years ago.

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Besides the shoddy machines, Conrath says they had some "really bad ideas" when it came to how to make the ink.

"They would melt the cover of their shower gel bottle and let the steam evaporate, leaving the colour behind; or they'd mix cigarette ash with spit and water," he said.

A 2010 analysis of 124 studies from 30 countries linked prison tattooing with a high risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis.

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