ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
58°
Partly Cloudy
H 79° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    58°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 79° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    74°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 79° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    68°
    Morning
    Cloudy. H 78° L 54°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Body art on Florida prison inmates runs from freaky to kinky

Carl Vines, serving 10 years at the Avon Park Correctional Institution in Central Florida, tattooed the inside of his lip with the word "dope."

>> Read more trending stories

Tavares Young, who has been in and out of prison since 1992, replaced his eyebrows with permanently manicured ink.

Richard Ward, who has racked up 18 theft-related convictions since 1987, covered his male appendage in candy cane stripes.

In an era when tattoos are growing more popular, especially among the young, prison continues to be a place where people of all ages flash their colors — and inner psyches — on all surfaces of the skin.

Three of four Florida inmates have at least one tattoo, a Palm Beach Post analysis of prison records shows. That’s more than 380,000 tattoos on nearly 75,000 state inmates, making body art about as typical as freckles or birthmarks.

Those numbers don’t shock Michael "Pooch" Pucciarelli, a tattoo artist and owner of Altered State Tattoo in Lake Worth, Florida.

"I think what surprises me more is that people still don’t see me and think I’m a felon," said Pooch, whose arms and legs are swirling with colorful figures.

The state of Florida painstakingly logs every tattoo and its location, creating a telling record of an oft-overlooked population.

The single most common tattoo in Florida prisons is the cross, worn by more than 22,000 inmates. Another popular tattoo: skulls, at 15,000.

Pooch could have guessed — skulls and crosses are among the most common tattoo requests he gets from his clientele, whom he described as regular people, not the bikers and sailors once typically associated with tattoos.

The most likely location for a tattoo for a Florida prisoner? The arms, by far, though the right arm has a slight edge over the left.

That’s not to say tattoos can’t be found on any other body part, as Ward’s candy cane-adorned nether region attests.

And not all ink is of the "thug life" variety.

For instance, Billy Jones, a 46-year-old Hypoluxo man, sports a peace sign on his back. He’s one of 336 inmates in Florida prisons to adorn their bodies with the symbol, a tattoo often in conflict with the crimes they committed.

Jones' crime? He’s serving 6½ years for stabbing his neighbor.

Tattoos don’t seem to just conflict with the wearer’s crimes, but also the wearers other ink.

Fifty-nine inmates sport "Hello Kitty" tattoos — 15 of them men.

Vines, imprisoned on a drug charge, is among the men tattooed with the girlish Japanese cartoon character. His resides on his leg, accompanied by the words “I love you.”

But Vines is not all sugar and spice and everything nice. On his neck is a tattoo that spells "murda," state records show, though he has never been convicted of taking a life.

Not like Wes McGee, a murderer who sports an unnerving tattoo popular among Florida inmates.

When police booked McGee into jail 10 years ago for the slaying of a West Palm Beach grandmother and the attempted murder of her then-6-year-old grandson, McGee's face hadn’t yet been scarred with ink.

Since then two teardrops have been etched into the skin beneath his left eye — tattoos commonly worn by murderers to tally their dead.

His choice of facial art is not unique in Florida prisons. Nearly 3,200 inmates have teardrop tattoos on their cheeks. About 270 of them are in for murder charges.

Another is Robert Alvarez, who tattooed his face with nine symbols including teardrops and a cross, which he got while he was in prison between the time of his initial conviction in 2012 and the appellate ruling that won him a second trial stemming from the 2010 murders of two store clerks.

The judge in Alvarez's second trial allowed him to cover his facial ink with makeup. The Post reported at the time that jurors noticed the makeup job, though they said it didn't impact their decision.

"I could see that he had something (under the makeup) but I couldn’t tell what it was," one female juror told the Post after her peers couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict and the judge declared a mistrial. "I thought he’d gotten in a fight or something and they were trying to cover up the bruises."

In yet another trial, a made-up Alvarez lost. He’s serving three concurrent life sentences.

The tattoos selected by women, who make up about 7 percent of the state’s 99,600 inmates, often vary wildly from men. The most common tattoos among women prisoners are butterflies, hearts, roses and flowers.

Emerald Smith, for example, at the all-female Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, has a heart on her hand in addition to a number of more uncommon tattoos, like the fairy on the top of her foot.

Or the tattoo of a stick figure pushing a lawn mower, the placement of which seemed critical. The Department of Corrections lists its location only as "pelvis."

Smith also has a tattoo of the logo for gun maker Browning Arms on her right arm, perhaps a tip-off to her reason for landing in the slammer: armed robbery.

While the Department of Corrections logs every inmate's tattoos, turning those records into absolute numbers is a daunting task. The state’s notations are often vague, misspelled or describe multiple tattoos as one.

That means the number of tattoos worn by inmates in Florida prisons is likely higher than the 380,000 tattoos counted by the Post.

It’s also difficult to pinpoint gang affiliation through tattoo records. The state recognizes more than 1,000 gangs. The Post found more than 8,000 tattoos in Florida prisons that explicitly reference those gangs.

The most prevalent gang, according to the state, is the Aryan Brotherhood. Its members often mark themselves with swastikas, accounting for about 580 of the tattoos on the inmate list.

The Department of Corrections also lists Neta, a Puerto Rico-based prison gang, as one of the more prolific prison gangs, though members often remain secretive about their allegiance. That might explain why only about 100 tattoos evoke the group’s symbols.

Tattoos that broadly include the words "gang," "gangster" or "gangsta" are much more common, with more than 660 of them.

Other popular gang tattoos include references to the Blood and Crip gangs as well as the phrase "thug life."

Pooch, who has been inking tattoos for 22 years, said he has encountered a Nazi-affiliated tattoo once before. On a Jewish felon.

The man joined a white gang for protection while he was in prison. He got the tattoo so he could blend in, but when he got out, the man wanted the tattoo gone, Pooch said.

"I covered it up with an Asian mask. Japanese-style," Pooch said. "I do those a lot."

 

 

 

 


Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

  • The bloody tragedy that befell north Tulsa in 1921 has largely been ignored, even covered up, for decades. But as U.S. Senator James Lankford has pointed out, in 2021 the entire country will look at Tulsa and remember what some call the “race riot,” while others prefer the term “race massacre.” “The entire country’s gonna pause, and is gonna look at Tulsa a hundred years later, and to say ‘you had major race issues in 1921, is it better now in 2021?’ That is not an unreasonable question for the nation to ask,” Lankford told KRMG last week after a town hall meeting in north Tulsa. Also at that town hall was State Senator Kevin Matthews, who was in Washington, D.C. this week to meet with Sen. Lankford and discuss the upcoming centennial. “Senator Lankford and I want to be leaders in showing people that across party lines, across cultural lines, political and geographical lines, we can come together and tell this story, and turn that tragedy into triumph for us all,” Matthews told KRMG Thursday. He sees the centennial as an opportunity not just for discussing racial reconciliation, but also for helping develop the Greenwood area economically. “Young people would be able to participate by having t-shirts, and the other things that people would buy,” Matthews said. “Entertainment, food, restaurants, all of those things that come with tourism. It could be a spark for entrepreneurism and business.” He urges anyone interested in getting involved in the commemoration of the 1921 tragedy to visit the Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Commission web page.
  • The GOP push for a major tax reform bill in Congress took an important step forward on Thursday night, as the Senate approved a Republican budget outline for 2018, authorizing work on a tax reform bill that cannot be derailed by a filibuster, as President Donald Trump urged Congress to move quickly on a tax package. “Tonight we completed the first step to replacing our broken tax code,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Senate vote was 51-49, with only Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) breaking ranks, as he voted against the plan, saying he was standing up for “fiscal responsibility.” The vote was welcome news at the White House. “I will tell you, our country needs tax cuts,” the President said at the White House on Thursday afternoon, arguing tax relief would spur new economic growth in the United States on a large scale. “If we get this done, it will be historic,” the President said. “It will be bigger than any plan ever approved or – ever. It will be the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country.” President Trump: 'I think we have the votes for the budget' https://t.co/ZxIn3XEXMh — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 19, 2017 That point was repeated on almost an endless loop by GOP Senators during Senate debate on the budget outline for 2018. “This is the first step to getting us to pro-growth tax reform,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). “It’s been more than 30 years since we reformed the tax code,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). “We have more preferences and loopholes and deductions than we know what to do with.” “If we don’t get that done, then I don’t think we have another opportunity to pass a tax bill in the next four years,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). “This budget allows us to cut taxes,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as few Senators dwelled on the fact that the GOP plan would allow their party’s tax plan to create $1.5 trillion in extra deficits over 10 years. 'Lower taxes and better jobs are good things for Americans.' – @SenJohnThune #TaxReform pic.twitter.com/cCv8k1HtQl — Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) October 20, 2017 For some, that wasn’t enough. “We should cut everyone’s taxes, to make sure we cut taxes for the middle class,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who offered an amendment to allow for deficits to go up by $2.5 trillion over ten years. Paul’s change was soundly defeated on a vote of 93-7. While Republicans rallied around the budget plan, critics of President Trump denounced it during Senate debate, in no uncertain terms. “This is not a bad budget bill, this is a horrific budget bill,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Republicans’ budget is not a bad bill. It’s a horrific bill. — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 20, 2017 GOP Congressional leaders must still sort out the differences between the budget outlines approved in the House and Senate, before starting on their effort for the first major tax reform plan since 1986. Some late changes made in the plan by Senate Republicans could pave the way for the House to simply accept the Senate version of the budget as early as next week, which would speed up the effort to begin debate on tax reform. As of now, the fine print of the GOP tax reform package remain a secret. Republicans want that to change in the next few weeks.
  • We may not rank very well on a lot of recent lists, but Oklahomans are hard workers. So says WalletHub, which ranked Oklahoma City 21 and Tulsa 25 out of 116 metro areas on the hard work scale. The biggest factor is, what else, the number of hours worked per week. But Oklahoma's ranking was hurt a little by labor force participation rate, which is only average here compared to the rest of the nation. Tell us what you think. Are Oklahomans hard workers? And how many hours do you think people should work per week? Send us an open mic on the KRMG app. You can see more about the list here.
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was the keynote speaker Thursday during a meeting of the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association in Midwest City. Sessions voiced concern over efforts to reduce federal sentences and cited statistics showing a recent increase in violent crime nationwide.  He says Oklahoma's murder rate jumped 40 percent from 2014 to 2016, while the number of overdose deaths in Oklahoma spiked by nearly 70 percent over the last decade. “These tired, tough on crime tactics do nothing to serve the interests of Oklahoma,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director at ACLU of Oklahoma  The head of the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association and some Republican lawmakers, who spoke at the event vowed to oppose legislative efforts next year to reduce certain criminal penalties.
  • As a key U.S. Senator said again on Wednesday that the Trump Administration was not being forthcoming about an ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers in the African nation of Niger, the Secretary of Defense told reporters that an investigation is ongoing into the October 4 incident, which military officials believe was linked to a group that is backed by the Islamic State. “We do not have all the accurate information yet,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at a Pentagon photo op. “We will release it as rapidly as we get it.” Little has been said in public by either defense officials or the White House about the Niger incident, where a small group of U.S. Army soldiers were believed to have been ambushed by fighters who are linked to the Islamic State. “The loss of our troops is under investigation,” Mattis said as he defended the lack of official details in public. “We in the Department of Defense like to know what we are talking about, before we talk.” MOMENTS AGO: Defense Secretary Mattis speaks out on #Niger. pic.twitter.com/nGEXVoJnZl — Fox News (@FoxNews) October 19, 2017 Monday was the first time that President Trump had commented about the attack in Niger; when asked about his silence, Mr. Trump instead talked about how he had written letters and called military families, seemingly raising questions about how his predecessors had handled similar situations. The President did not say anything about the specifics of the attack; instead, the White House has become focused on a fight over what Mr. Trump said to the widow of one of the soldiers, and how it was interpreted by family members, and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who is close to the family. On Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, again said that little information had been given to members of Congress about the attack, making clear his frustration at the lack of details. “It may require a subpoena,” McCain said on Thursday. McCain has already threatened to slow down work some Pentagon nominees to get the attention of military leaders, so they will provide more information about the Niger situation, and he made clear that he has sent that message to the Defense Secretary. McCain said earlier he’s disappointed in how Mattis has handled the Niger situation. “I’ve told him so,” McCain said. — Emma Loop (@LoopEmma) October 19, 2017 Reporter: Is the Trump administration being up front about what happened in Niger? 'No,' McCain said, per @KilloughCNN — Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 18, 2017 This morning, McCain expressed his frustration with the Trump Administration on another front, after the White House did not send a witness to a Senate hearing on defending against cyber attacks. “We’re going to have to demand a better cooperation and better teamwork than we are getting now,” McCain said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. It wasn’t clear if McCain would hold hearings on the Niger incident, as Democrats started to publicly ask questions as well. The @realDonaldTrump Administration still has not adequately explained what happened in #Niger nor why US troops are in that country. https://t.co/KYhlc8vTDK — Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 19, 2017