Officials Cracking Down on Illegal Tattoos
Going to an unlicensed tattooer – or a "scratcher" as they're commonly referred to – can result in one of two things (or both): a sh-tty tat or possibly an infection of some sort. In response to this, counties across the United States are introducing newer and stricter bills in an effort to eliminate unlicensed tattooing, which means bad news for all of the scratchers and tattoo artist wannabes out there—especially since some areas are proposing to include jail time as part of the punishment.
So Fresh, Not So Clean, Though
Kevin O'Connor self-identifies as a scratcher. Photo: Instagram.
In Erie County, N.Y., legislator Patrick Burke has recently set out on a mission to crack down scratchers tattooing illegally in their area. Under the “Preventing Underground Tattoo Parlors” law, scratchers' penalties for conducting "underground" tattoo operations will change from simply being a health code violation to actually being considered a misdemeanor, which may result in a fine of $500 fine and/or also a month behind the bricks, according to WIVB4.
Forgetting Something, Mr. Scratcher?
Why so serious, you may ask?
Jon Mirro, owner of Hand of Doom Tattoo in Buffalo says, "The basic risk of infection can become very substantial. Staff infections can turn into blood poisoning, and it can lead to death. And it sounds dramatic, but it happens more than you would actually think."
Don't Learn The Hard Way!
Shauna Halle learned the hard way to stay away from unskilled and unequipped tattooers. Photo: Instagram.
Under the current rules, health inspectors have to catch illegal tattooers in the act, which can makes it difficult to hold them accountable. With the new bill Burke proposes that more immediate action be involved like the aid of law enforcement to help tear down the more than 100 illegal tattoo operations going on in Erie County.
A Few More Ben Franklins Would've Probably Paid for a Better Tattoo
Todd Troskey, who is an Environmental Health Specialist for the Oneida County Health Department in Wisconsin, told WSAU 99.5 FM that they currently have numerous procedures when it comes to policing the growing popularity of illegal tattooing and piercing in their district, including working with local police departments and monitoring social media pages. Social media scratchers beware!
"We get complaints from the general public every once in a while," Troskey said, adding, "We also work very closely with law enforcement. And, we like to also look at things like Facebook and other web-based sites to make sure that anything that's going on in our county is licensed."
To Die With This Tattoo Would Be Awful! WTF?!
In Oneida County, the current penalties if they catch you tattooing or piercing without a license include a $150 fine for tattooing without a license with an added $749 for doing so in an unhealthy, unlicensed facility. "If someone isn't licensed properly and they're not doing it in a licensed and inspected facility, there could be diseases such as HIV or hepatitis or, as well as a lot of times, there can be other effects to the skin such as infections and rashes," Troskey explained.
Even the online tattoo community is on these scratchers' tails, with numerous pages popping up on Instagram every other week dedicated to exposing scratchers.
Scratchers, you've been warned!