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Social Organisation of Penal Tattooing in Two Canadian Federal Male Prisons: Locating Sites of Risk for Empirically-Based Health Care Interventions

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 50 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2011 Pages: 17-33
Kevin Denys Bonnycastle
Date Published
February 2011
17 pages
This study examined the social organization of prison tattooing in Canadian prisons to determine its degree as a risk factor for the transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV in prisons.
Based in two Canadian male penitentiaries, this study explores the social organization of prison tattooing, a widespread but under-researched practice identified in some epidemiological studies as a risk factor for Hepatitis C and HIV transmission. Qualitative and quantitative data are drawn from interviews with 5 incarcerated prison tattoo artists and 36 penal tattooing participants, who are also prison drug injectors, the sub-population known to report the highest prison tattooing rates. Unlike epidemiological studies, respondents' 'everyday knowledge' and experiential accounts illuminate the highest risk moments intrinsic to prison tattooing and possible points of intervention and advocacy for penal health care providers. The article argues for a sterile ('safe') prison tattooing program to be available in prisons. Notes and references (Published Abstract)