Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Getting Inked

In my line of work, tattoos can make or break a case. A witness might remember a very distinctive tattoo on someone's arm that can help identify the person. Or the witness might say the suspect had no tattoos and since the defendant has plenty of him, it might be a misidentification.

I get that people like them and want to express themselves through them. What I will never understand though is face tattoos. Full disclosure - I don't have any tattoos.

It's a disturbing trend that I see everyday. Gang members, usually 16-18 years old, appear in court with a still glistening tattoo on their face. The ointment to help soothe the skin is still fresh and they've picked up a new case. Around these parts, a person doesn't get a face tattoo until they "put in some work," meaning they shoot someone. I'm not talking about the teardrop tattoos back in the day. These are full and recognizable symbols, much like the Mike Tyson tattoo, which are usually given at a tattoo party. Heard of Tupperware parties? It's much the same. A group of people get together and a tattoo artist inks everyone up for a fee.

What prompted this article was this story about a tattoo artist covering up gang tattoos for free. I applaud and appreciate his efforts. But what about the child who has now ruined any chance for a normal life by stamping his face with his neighborhood gang? Every good job is now off the table and with it any hope for a life off of the streets.

Don't the people realize that they are also branding themselves as an easily identifiable member of whatever gang symbol they put on their face? It's another product of our social, familial, and educational system that these children are choosing a path they can no longer leave at such a young age. To this day, I'll never forget my father telling my brothers and me we can get tattoos the day we started paying him rent. Is that the reason I never got any tattoos? Small statements like this mean a lot to help guide a child through life.


  1. When I was a kid, the only people who had tattoos were bikers, criminals, and sailors and Marines. Now, they're mainstream.I see plenty of kids in my daughter's high school with them now, and lots of people older than me getting them. I personally don't like them, but it's your body, you do what you want.

    As for the kids getting inked up, it's hard to say what they're thinking, or if they're thinking at all. It's very hard, at 16, to imagine in any realistic way what life will be like 10 or 20 years from now. You sort of think life will be exactly the same, that whatever you think is cool now you'll think is cool then. And I imagine the kind of pressure that forces some kids into The Life also pressures them into getting tats they may not necessarily want.

  2. I was hoping you would lend me your expertise on two issues:

    Is it typical for a dynamic prosecutor to have "groupies" or people who follow his trials? (I've noticed this with Juan Martinez in the Jodi Arias case.)

    Also, do you think sending a prosecutor a letter of thanks for his work on a trial after sentencing is appropriate for someone with connection to the case?


    1. Groupies? I've never had any. Anyone that reaches the heights of instant popularity is going to have fans and detractors. The instant access society allows all of us to tweet and comment about what we like and don't like instantly. Fortunately, my critics have remained mainly on this site.

      I can count on one finger the number of times I've received a note from a victim in a case. He was a drug addict who was beat within an inch of his life and bound to a wheelchair because of it. He sent me a card, thanking me for handling his case and prosecuting the defendants. It hangs in my office to this day. Most victims want to move on and keeping in contact with the prosecutor reminds them of what they went through. That being said, I appreciate the card every day and would any note I received thanking me for what I did.