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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tattoo-Artist Inmate Paints for Police

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - A western Kentucky jail inmate who's got a talent for tattooing fellow inmates has been given a new job: sprucing up the jail's walls with murals. Robert Penrose says he's applied tattoos to inmates by using the spring from inside an ink pen, the motor from a CD player and alcohol "ink" colored with M&Ms or Skittles.

But deputies at the Daviess County jail put a stop to the illegal practice and gave the 25-year-old Penrose a new palette.

"We found a job where he can use his artistic ability and work by himself," Lt. Bill Billings told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

Penrose says he has been "inking" family and friends since he was about 15 and has gotten to the point where he can look at a picture and do his work without first making a pattern.

In his initial project for the jail, the Chicago native painted a replica of the new patch deputies will be sewing to the sleeve of their uniforms in coming weeks. The patch can be seen by visitors when they sit in the glass visitation booths in the main lobby.

"I'm more than pleased to do it," said Penrose, who is serving time for bail jumping, receiving stolen property and second-degree burglary. "I'm in here; at least it takes my mind off of everything else."

Billings said the next project will be for Penrose to paint the images of a cruiser from each local law enforcement agency in a hallway where officers bring in suspects for booking. He said the mural was chosen as a way to show the unity of the Owensboro Police Department, Daviess County Sheriff's Department and Kentucky State Police with the jail.

Jailer David Osborne said there are plans for Penrose to paint scenes of cartoon characters in the lobby to make what could be an intimidating atmosphere a little more child-friendly.

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