Caught Tattooing in Prison (by Lifer Renee)
Renee – Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.
I do tattoo work from time to time. Mostly when I have no money. I do it to pay for stuff like hygiene items from the store.
So a friend, Kathy, wanted a tattoo. As she does tattoos as well and was a tattoo artist before her arrest, it was a privilege to tattoo her.
When we were ready to start, Kathy stepped outside of my cell door, and asked the girl on the stairs if she would “pin” for us. [Watch out for the guards because tattooing in prison is a violation of the rules punishable by a loss of privileges.]
She responded, “Yeah, I got you, homey.”
Kathy came back in. I put the stencil on her leg, tattoo gun at the ready. I started the outline. I was about a quarter of the way through the outline when a shadow appeared at the cell-door window.
Oh damn, I thought, turning to look at an officer.
He was staring at the tattoo gun in my hand. “Put the gun on the counter and step out of the room.”
I put the gun down. My heart was racing. I forgot to put my shoes on, not even shower shoes, and it was 107 degrees outside.
They shut the door to my cell.
The officer called the on-shift sergeant. I didn’t catch the radio conversation.
Sitting at the ramada, I tried to wipe the ink and stencil off Kathy’s leg.
A friend brought me a pair of deck shoes, so I wouldn’t have to walk around on the hot concrete barefoot.
The guards searched my room and locked me out. They threatened to move me and Kathy to CDU [Complex Detention Unit]. They packed up all of my belongings, leaving my bedding and some basic hygiene products. In violation of prison policy, I did not receive a seized-property receipt or an inventory sheet. They left me sat in the blazing heat in borrowed shoes without a cup of water even to drink.
The girl who was supposed to be watching out for us approached. “I’m sorry. I…” is about all she got out.
Cutting her off, I said, “If you don’t shut up and get away from me, we’re going to have problems.” I was not in the mood for excuses.
Again, she tried, “I didn’t know…”
Through clenched teeth, I said, “If you do not get away from me…”
A friend of mine took the girl away by the arm as she knew I was in so much trouble I didn’t need to bury myself.
Our belongings were carted to SSU’s office [the office belonging to the prison’s team of investigators]. The SSU officers would search through everything at their leisure. Photographs were taken of our tattoos. During my strip search, the officer would not allow me to put my clothes, shorts or even panties on while she took photographs of the tattoos on my back. I felt violated. I never thought I’d be doing porn for the Arizona Department of Corrections. There was no reason to disallow me from wearing panties and shorts. The angel tattoo on my back is big, but it stops an inch or two past my bra line. There is nothing below it but virgin skin that has not even seen sunshine in 16 years.
I received a major ticket – a felony according to the new disciplinary policy. I got 30 days LOP [Loss Of Privileges], 30 extra duty hours, and loss of 10 ERC’s [Earned Release Credits].
Click here for Renee’s previous blog.
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