Mayor Skip Rimsza


1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The Parks, Recreation and Library Department X-TATTOO: Tattoo Removal Program provides laser removal of visible gang tattoos for at risk youths and adults in Phoenix. Just as gangs influence and recruit one by one, the X-TATTOO program seeks to give program participants access to productive and nonviolent futures by removing each gang insignia, one by one.

The primary reason for creating X-TATTOO was to help participants become employable without the barriers of gang-related tattoos. Removing the tattoo does not necessarily mean participants understand how to search for or apply for a job. Because of this, attending educational workshops is required for most program participants.

Treatment sessions are conducted once every nine weeks. Participants are divided into three participant treatment groups, with treatments at three week intervals at the At Risk Youth Division. Volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons or dermatologists conduct laser treatments using the Coherent Versa Pulse Select laser machine. Jeffrey Ptak, MD, FACS, serves as medical consultant and lead volunteer physician for X-TATTOO, and recruiter for physicians for the program. X-TATTOO advertises and markets itself at several locales within the municipal government umbrella: Maricopa County Adult and Juvenile Court centers, probation offices, and college campuses. Examples of marketing methods include flyers, oral and visual presentations, posters and national mailings to prospective agencies interested in developing there own X-TATTOO programs.

Currently there are 106 participants in the program. Approximately 66 participants have graduated, and there are about 125 people on the waiting list. X-TATTOO collaborates with the City of Phoenix Fire Department, the Arizona Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS), the Phoenix 100 Rotary Club, and Valley Vocational Services. A program like this would not be possible without the proactive collaboration of these team-oriented agencies. City of Phoenix Fire Department Emergency Medical Technicians assist with pre- and post-treatment care on a volunteer basis. Educational workshop presenters provide their services on a volunteer basis. Past educational workshop presenters include Chicanos Por La Casa (CPLC), Center Against Sexual Assault (CASA), Maricopa County Public Health Department, and Parents Anonymous.

The X-TATTOO Program uses several evaluation methods. Each participant receives a survey and evaluation after the first tattoo removal treatment, at approximately six months into the program, and upon graduating from the program. We use three different Dr. Walter Hudson Personal Adjustment Scales on program participants: the General Contentment Scale, the Index of Peer Relations, and the Index of Self-Esteem. We administer these scales to participants after they receive their first treatment and again upon graduating/exiting the program. The Dr. Hudson Self-Assessment Scales were designed to measure the severity or magnitude of problems that participants have with a wide range of personal, interpersonal, and social dysfunctions.


City of Phoenix Parks, Recreation and Library Department


Walt Bratton, Recreation Coordinator II


Phone: 602/262-7370

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