LAFAYETTE — For seven years, Mark Drevno has traversed America’s jails and prisons, talking to thousands of inmates about how to build a better life on the outside.
Drevno is the CEO of Jails to Jobs, a Lafayette-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to helping those former inmates build job skills and find work. Drevno authored a how-to book that’s gained widespread praise as a template for formerly incarcerated people seeking work. But the group’s biggest hit, according to criminal justice experts, is the creation of a comprehensive database of places that offer cheap, accessible tattoo removal services.
“I’d go in and do these job search workshops, and see all these visible, neck, face, and head tattoos,” Drevno said. “That’s such a barrier to employment.”
Jails to Jobs’ database covers 43 states and more than 250 locations. It took many years to compile, and a lot of the locations were near-impossible to find online, Drevno said. He’s also building a network of local tattoo removal practitioners with the hopes of being the go-between for people with offensive tattoos and those who can take them off for cheap.
“For me, this is a contribution to try and help somebody,” said Dr. Shahin Javaheri, a plastic surgeon whose office recently joined Jails to Jobs’ network. “My philosophy in life is that everybody deserves a second chance.”
Drevno’s work has attracted heavyweights in the criminal justice world, like Robert Hood, a retired warden of four prisons who ended his career running Colorado’s notorious federal supermax facility, the most secured prison in the United States. Hood said that existing programs in prison cover job skills, education, and religion, but largely fail to address the “obvious piece” of tattoo removal — a problem, given the prevalence of gang-related, offensive, or simply intimidating tattoos.
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Source:: The Mercury News