Not only do most who enter prison sit low on the socioeconomic ladder, but the trials of imprisonment itself are often reflected on their faces, through scars, gang tattoos, nasal fractures, and broken or pulled teeth. A 2017 study found that facial trauma accounted for a third of trauma-related emergency room visits by incarcerated New Yorkers. After release, former prisoners’ physical appearance contributes to the challenge of reintegration.
But despite the criminal justice reforms sweeping the nation, the role of lookism is largely ignored. To really help people succeed in an appearance-focused world, should cosmetic procedures—at least for things like tattoo removal and nose jobs and tooth veneers—be part of how society prepares prisoners to reenter it?