State officials looking to launch prison tattoo program

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State corrections officials are looking to launch a prison tattoo program in hopes of curbing bloodborne diseases as inmates ink themselves with homemade tools.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Corrections Department is searching for an experienced tattoo artist to oversee tattoo studios in state prisons. The aim is to slow the spread of diseases like hepatitis C which can spread when inmates try to tattoo themselves or each other with unsterilized tools like electric motors and ballpoint pens and share contaminated needles.

Corrections spokesman Nick Kimball says as of January anywhere from 1,200 to 3,500 of the prison system’s 7,511 inmates were infected with hepatitis C. He says treatment can cost between $20,000 and $75,000.