Pubdate: Sun, 24 Apr 2005
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Paul Egan
Bookmark: (Hepatitis)


Rockwood Institution Part Of Pilot Project

MANITOBA'S Rockwood Institution is one of six prisons across the country 
that will open a tattoo parlour as part of a $700,000 federal pilot 
project, officials have confirmed.

The tattoo parlour, to be run by inmates, is expected to open soon, 
Corrections Canada spokeswoman Cathy Stocki said.

The program is funded by Health Canada and is aimed at slowing the spread 
of hepatitis C and HIV in prisons, Stocki said.

Although non-sanctioned tattooing has been and remains prohibited in 
prisons, inmates have used a variety of instruments that are often not 
sterile to give tattoos to themselves and one another, she said.

The six sanctioned parlours have been "given the blessings of Health Canada 
and the health community," Stocki said.

However, a victims' rights advocate said he was astounded by the program. 
"This is just absolute lunacy," said Joe Wamback, founder and chairman of 
the Canadian Crime Victim Foundation.

"Seven hundred thousand dollars of taxpayers' money to provide tattoos for 
convicted rapists, con artists and killers, when we still refuse to provide 
psychological counselling to the victims?"

"How does some Jello-headed bureaucrat possibly justify such an insult?"

Rockwood is a minimum-security prison with about 100 inmates at Stony 
Mountain, just north of Winnipeg.

It's expected prisoners from the adjacent medium-security prison, Stony 
Mountain Institution, will also be able to use the tattoo parlour, Stocki said.

The rate of HIV infection among Canadian prisoners is 10 times higher than 
the general population and the rate of hepatitis C is 29 times higher. 
Stocki had no data on how much infection is spread through tattooing, as 
opposed to sharing needles or having sexual contact. Inmates will have to 
pay $5 for each tattoo session and certain images, such as gang insignias, 
will not be permitted as tattoos, she said.

The owner of a Winnipeg tattoo parlour said he's surprised by the program.

"It is utterly ridiculous," said Kelly McRae, owner of Skin Dimensions 
Tattoo and Body Piercing in Winnipeg.

"How can you have a disease-free place without any education?" McRae asked. 
"If they're getting education, I had to pay $3,000 for mine, so why is it 
free for them?"

Stocki said inmates will receive instructions on safety and hygiene, but 
only prisoners who already know how to give tattoos will be allowed to work 
in the parlour.
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