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Mississippi tattoo artists put the needle down for minors
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Maura Moed (Body Ink Tattoos)

30 year-old Walls is accused of having inappropriate contact with two 15 year-old girls while giving them a tattoo. In Mississippi, it is a misdemeanor to tattoo someone less than 18 years of age, even if they have parental consent. 

Jim Craig is with the Health Department. He says there are ways for tattoo artists to ensure they are abiding by the law.  

"We require them to get information such as a driver's license, and keep a copy of that for everyone they tattoo so that we have some verifications that they're not tattooing people that are younger than 18," says Craig.

Craig says if the Health department finds out about underage tattooing, local law enforcement will be notified. This could result in a suspended or revoked license and a fine of $500 or more. 

Jammal Jones tattoos a customer at Body Ink Tattoos in Jackson. He says checking a client's age is one of the most important things to do. 

"First of all, it's somebody else's shop, and they'll get in trouble first. If the health department comes in and they see someone underage, everybody is in trouble. This is my livelihood. This is what I do and how I make my money, so that's the first thing to keep in mind," Jones says.  

Aspiring artists are required to take a blood-borne pathogens course. Health officials say if a shop isn't clean and the equipment isn't sterilized, blood-borne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS can be transmitted by a tattoo needle that's been used on another person.