Dr. Dave Ores’s Fresh Start for Criminal Offenders and Human Traffic Victims
SNIPPET # 055
He’s got a 100-watt smile and a snazzy suit. The sales team of the elite auto center respect his command of the industry and his managerial style. His wife and children adore him. Unless you knew him from “back in the day,” you would never guess he’d once been a member of a ruthless gang or worn an inmate’s uniform. He’s left that old life behind, thanks in large part to Dr. David Ores helping him and thousands like him get that fresh start.
She’s the new girl in school. She may seem aloof or shy, or she may have an edge about her. She looks just like every other teenager roaming the halls. But she’s just endured two years of being sold like a commodity, abused and violated for the entertainment of others. You may catch sight of a curious tattoo on her if you’re changing next to her in the locker room – unless Dr. Dave Ores has removed that one lingering brand on her flesh that reaches inside her, to brand her soul.
Dr. Dave Ores is no stranger to the street culture, having grown up around it and having community still in it. The general practitioner from New York City is just as comfortable treating or conversing with former felons as he is with anyone else who comes into his office. He sees beneath the tattoos and attitudes to the people those things conceal, and he is doing his part to help those people – as well as young survivors of the thriving human trafficking trade – remove tattoos that either brand them as victims or members of gangs, as part of their road to creating new lives.
Once labeled the “Badass Doctor of the Year” by GQ magazine, Dr. Dave Ores is leading the charge in the battle to reduce criminal recidivism and help victims become survivors by providing them with free removal of those tattoos.
For the formerly incarcerated gang members, Dr. Dave and his network of providers remove tattoos from the hands, face, and neck at no charge. For the survivors, there is no limit on the location of the tattoo.
As a full-fledged member of the tattoo culture, Dr. Dave has an array of tattoos over his body, skillfully concealed with proper business attire when he’s working, and proudly displayed when he’s not. He knows all too well that society as a whole tends to have its own misguided perception of any tattoo, let alone an entire spider web covering a face. A tattoo on the face, in particular, changes employment opportunities, he says. Ditto for any tattoos visible on the hands or neck.
Today Dr. Dave has a network of providers in different parts of this country and other countries who provide free tattoo removals, but the waiting list is thousands deep.
It started when he got the laser machine that will remove tattoos, and began including that service in his medical practice. Several of his own clients were tattoo artists and began sending their clients to him for removal of old tattoos, so they could have new ones done. This is the tattoo cover-up business, and Dr. Dave was all too happy to be a part of it.
Then a family member, or a friend of a family member, or a friend of a friend of a family member, heard about his machine and the request for favors began trickling in.
Over about three years Dr. Dave Ores removed tattoos for every person with such a request – between 200 and 300 people.
A teardrop on a face takes only a few minutes to remove but the effect can last a lifetime. These small tattoos typically represent either a loved one lost or a life taken by the wearer, and can stand in the way of the wearer ever getting a job, regardless of any change in beliefs or behaviors. Larger tattoos like spider webs on the face or specific gang symbols elsewhere can not only hamper job-seeking and personal relationships, but they can get a person killed.
It’s easy for him to do and he doesn’t bat an eye at the stories of those he helps. This is partly because most of his clients don’t volunteer that information and he is restricted from asking, and partly because to him, it’s just another day’s work. He operates outside of emotion and focuses on the practicality of his work.
In the long term life after incarceration, removing the visible roadblock to gainful employment is an integral part of helping people leave their criminal past behind. Without the glaring statement of a criminal tie, former inmates or gang members are not dismissed on the spot. Instead, they have an opportunity to prove their value alongside all the other applicants. As Dr. Dave bluntly states, “It’s a less shitty life.”
In the early years of providing this free service, Dr. Dave just rolled it into his regular routine and didn’t give much thought to it. The people with criminal histories and the children with traumatic pasts came in with tattoos and left without them. Small tattoos were gone in one visit. Others take several months, and Dr. Dave helped alter the appearance of the larger ones by adding a dot here or a line there, until the original tattoo was unrecognizable as a brand or a gang symbol, and finally until it was gone.
The free service came to a screeching halt when Dr. Dave Ores’s laser machine broke.
Without his machine his free service was dead in the water. That’s when Dr. Dave began reaching out to other providers, and the network came to life. Its evolution demanded some structure, and the 501© 3 Fresh Start Tattoo Removal was born. Today there are 15 national and international providers involved, and it is not nearly enough. His waiting list alone tops 3,000 people and he is still without a machine.
Fundraising now takes precedence. One company, Quanta Aesthetic Laser Removal Company, heard of his plight and donated $90,000.00 toward the $180,000.00 machine as a matched fund, meaning there is an expiration date on this donation if he does not raise the other $90,000.00 plus the $40,000 service contract. It’s a daunting obstacle and he is enlisting help.
It can be difficult to elicit support for ex-convicts. Many trafficking survivors live in fear or trauma and do not volunteer to share their stories. These factors present a challenge in fundraising. Fortunately, Dr. Dave operates just fine outside of emotional motivation and is well-versed in all the financial gains of his program. This is helping him catch the ear of political representatives who are beginning to express interest in helping raise the funds.
“Job instead of jail,” is Dave Ores’s battle cry, and he’s got the numbers to give it firepower.
According to his research and experience, for every person who gets that job instead of going back to jail, an annual $60,000 is saved. For every person who gets a job within two years of getting out of jail, there is a 90% chance of staying out of jail. Those who do not find a job have a 90% chance of going back to jail.
It’s all about the almighty dollar for some people. For Dr. Dave, it’s also about the opportunity to be a disruptor. He enjoys a challenge. He’s also certain he is doing what should already be done by the federal government and is willing to be the one who demonstrates this point.
“It’s obvious every state in the nation should have five such free programs through the federal government,” he says. “It would save money.”
He’s helping “…a subset of a subset of a subset” of society. It may seem small but he understands the enormous ripple effect this work has on society as a whole. From a reduction in crime by people who find new lives to a lightened tax burden, to emotional healing, it’s a small way of making a huge difference.