If he had known a tattoo he got in prison in the late 1980s would give him a deadly infectious disease, Robert E. Gibbish Jr. would not have done it. But once he found out he was infected, he kept getting prison tattoos of elaborate demons and skulls.
“I figured I was already dirty, I might as well finish them up,” said Gibbish, of Nampa, who returned to prison in 2014 at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise on drug and assault charges.
He believed it was just a matter of time before he succumbed to an incurable disease.
“I’ve seen what it does to people out here. The ammonia levels build up in them. Their legs swell up. … It is hard to watch your friends go through that and die,” he said.