Starting Over: How One Tattoo Parlor Gives People a Second Chance

By Nancy Flory Published on July 23, 2018

“I think it’s important that everybody gets a second chance,” said Elizabeth Cutlip, co-owner of Redemption Tattoo in Baltimore. Elizabeth and Dave Cutlip started the nonprofit to help people cover up racist or gang-related tattoos. “If you’ve made that mistake and you’re past that in your life, we’re going to help you out,” Elizabeth told CBS News.

The couple started Redemption Tattoo after a man with gang-related tattoos on his face came into their for-profit tattoo shop. He was hoping they could remove them. They referred him for laser treatment but later realized they could do a lot of good helping people remove tattoos that no longer fit with their lifestyle. Elizabeth told Dave the shop could help remove the tattoos “so they could get jobs and re-enter society and not have that stigma attached to them.”

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“We posted it on Facebook that we were going to help people thinking that we were just going to help people in our community and I just see the numbers like, they’re going up to thousands and thousand and thousands. And then messages started pouring in and pouring in and pouring in,” she said. The shop now offers the free service one day a week to people from around the country.

One young man who had a Nazi symbol on his hand came to the Cutlips for help. He said he had the symbol tattooed to “fit in.” But he’s no longer that guy. “You know, I guess there comes a time when everybody is, like, when you change, whether you’re dead or you’re alive.”

The Cutlips hope to build a network of tattoo shops that will remove racist or gang-related tattoos around the country where people can start over and leave their past behind them.


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