Brit who did time in hellhole US jails says lags get face tattoos to look tough

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A Brit who spent more than 30 years in some of America's toughest prisons has revealed the two reasons why lags boldly get face tattoos inside.

Jamie Morgan Kane, who was convicted of murder after pleading guilty in 1984, has spent half his life in US jails. He denies carrying out the killing.

He has since been released and written a new book, Behind The Granite Walls, revealing the brutal truth of life behind bars Stateside.

One of the most intriguing details is around prison tattoos.

Jamie claims that tattoos are a form of entertainment for inmates and some would tattoo their faces to look more intimidating.

Convicted bank robber Jerry Lee, who was not one of Jamie's former prison mates, has told how he inked his own face in jail, using a homemade kit.

Writing in his new book, Jamie revealed: “Around mid-2012, I started seeing more guys having their faces tattooed, in some cases to help them look tougher, especially if they had a baby face.

“Some said it was to ensure they would not be able to get a job when they got out.

“I used to advise guys who were thinking of getting a tattoo to really think about it, and not just because of the political problems that could arise.”

Jamie explains in his book that while some inmates simply got tattoos to look cool, this sometimes led to them being targeted by prison factions.

How the tattoos were drawn in prison without proper equipment is a gruesome process.

Lacking items such as needles, Jamie claims inmates used anything they could get their hands on.

This led to objects in common use around the prison being converted into makeshift needles and ink.

“For needles, they would use straightened-out staples taken from some legal paperwork, a paper clip or even a chicken bone smuggled back from chow”, Jamie writes.

“They would sharpen them in either warm water, the hottest we ever got, or disinfectant we were given to mop the floor with.

“Cotton thread from a T-shirt would be wrapped around the needle to help hold ink.

“As for the ink, the simplest and most common method I saw was to take the paper sack that we got our lunch in, turn it upside down, set fire to a Styrofoam cup, and then collect the sooty smoke in the bag.”

Poorer inmates would volunteer their bodies as canvases for those learning to draw tattoos, Jamie claims.

Even if these tattoos looked terrible and had misspellings, some inmates jumped at the chance to get a free tatt.

Jamie’s journey to America started as a child when he was taken from the Isle of Man to Canada before ending up in the US and being sold to a family aged 14.

He denies committing the crime he was sentenced for after claiming he came home one day to find a corpse in the living room of his house.

The former inmate is now back on British soil and is starting to rebuild his life.

Behind The Granite Walls, published by Mirror Books £8.99, is on sale now and can be bought on Amazon .

Jamie is also the author of 34 Years In Hell, another Mirror Books publication that goes into greater detail about his interactions with Charles Manson.

  • Prison News
  • United States
  • Crime
  • Murder
  • Tattoos

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