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Jail Tattoo Removal Ministry Gives Inmates a Fresh Start

Holly Young is a freelance graphic designer who also works at the Elkhart County Jail doing tattoo removal. Removing tattoos helps give the inmates an external sign of their internal change of heart.

“They’re people — most of them just couldn’t get it together, and we’re not much different,” she shares about working with the inmates.

Video Transcript

Inmate: As a child, I did childish things, and now that I’m trying to grow up and trying to be a different person, be a better person, I guess the first place I could start with changing is the inside. People ain’t really going to notice that. They’re going to be like, “Oh, you’re just doing that because you’re in jail right now.” They always see me like this. I figured, if I can change something about me, what would be the first thing to change? It would be my appearance. So I started doing my hair a little different, started trying to look a little bit more presentable, and then it’s like, that’s not enough.

I remove the tattoos, it shows that I’m trying to change and move forward.

Holly Young: So I’m doing this freelance design work, but I was working at home by myself. I just thought, I’m not really sure this is what God has for me.

I remember a distinct day saying, “I’m listening if you have something else in mind.” He opened this door for me that I never saw coming. Removing tattoos in the jail? I didn’t know anyone did that!

Removing tattoos costs thousands of dollars. This jail ministry removes them for free.

Holly: Yeah, it’s a little intimidating — the sounds of the doors, the echoing in the halls.

When I see them coming down the halls and it’s like, “Hey, Holly.” They’re my friends.

So when I’m doing my design work at home, I am thinking about being at the jail and wishing that I was at the jail.

The inmates and I laugh all day. They’ve made mistakes. I don’t really want to know what those mistakes are.

Inmate: I think if you had somebody in there that was just like, “Yep, let me see your hand.” And just like, “All right, next” — it’d kind of be like a bummer. They make it more personal and I think it helps out a whole lot.

Holly: So when I’m treating them, it’s nice that I have a helper that uses the cooling machine. And so I have one hand for the laser and then I can rest my other hand on their hand or on their shoulder. And while I do that, I just use that as an opportunity to pray for them. They’re people. Most of them just couldn’t get it together, and we’re not much different.

Inmate: When I get out of here, I plan on going back to work. Mainly, I just want to be with my kids, my family. I want to try to do something different with my life.

Holly: If only everyone just would stop and listen, and just ask God, “What is it that you have for me?” You will always be surprised at what He has for you.

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