When Jose De La Cruz sat down in a conference room at the county’s administrative offices Monday morning, it was hard to miss the large California state bear tattooed on his right cheek.
Less than 10 minutes later, the bear was just a shadow of its former self.
Over the next few months, using a tattoo removal laser, local plastic surgeons will slowly erase De La Cruz’s bear tattoo, leaving that part of his cheek looking more or less tattoo-free.
The free tattoo removal service is provided by a Napa program called Taboo Tattoo. Funded by local criminal justice agencies, Taboo Tattoo started back in 1997, but had been on hiatus for several years.
On Monday, the service held its first monthly removal clinic, located on the second floor of the county offices, near an adult probation office.
“It’s one of the most rewarding programs I’ve worked on,” said organizer Sheila Daugherty.
Daugherty is the former executive director and co-founder of Napa’s Wolfe Center.
Daugherty said the priority for the free service is those with visible tattoos or gang tattoos. For those trying to leave such an affiliation behind, removal is particularly important, she said.
“We’re just trying to encourage people to get rid of them.”