Tag: cruel and unusual punishment

Tennessee Ink – A Felon’s Plea to Have His Swastika Tattoo Removed

By Paul Irlando

A Tennessee man is regretting his decision to get ink.  According to a Forward.com article, Daniel Cowart, who in March pled guilty to eight federal charges in U.S. District Court, including a plot to assassinate then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, is requesting to have certain tattoos removed before heading to federal prison.

Why does Mr. Cowart want these tattoos removed?  According to the Huffington Post , he has been labeled a “white supremacist skinhead.”  He brandishes a swastika tattoo on his right shoulder and iron cross on his chest (see images here and here).  District Court Judge Daniel Breen put Mr. Cowart’s June motion requesting the tattoo removal under seal, so we can’t be sure, but it is presumed that Mr. Cowart is concerned with “unwanted attention” from other inmates.

Do individuals about to enter the correctional system have a legal right to have their tattoos removed to protect their safety?  The Forward.com article reported that the U.S. Marshals Service, through the government’s attorney, “cannily” played down Mr. Cowart’s tattoo-alteration request as “cosmetic surgery,” ignoring the potentially serious consequences of brandishing such ink in a federal prison.  But the article failed to state whether Cowart, indeed, is protected by state or federal law, or by either the Tennessee or Federal Constitution. (more…)


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