Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel says the orange jumpsuits are now viewed as “cool” by inmates, so he invested in jumpsuits with black and white horizontal stripes.
According to mlive.com, Federspiel blames some of the perceived coolness on cable shows, like the Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black.”
“It’s because as you see shows on television, like ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ some people think it’s cool to look like an inmate of the Saginaw County Jail with wearing all-orange jumpsuits out at the mall or in public,” Federspiel explains. “It’s a concern because we do have our inmates out sometimes doing work in the public, and I don’t want anyone to confuse them or have them walk away.
“We decided that the black-and-white stripes would be the best way to go because it signifies ‘jail inmate,’ and I don’t see people out there wanting to wear black-and-white stripes.”
Federspiel doesn’t have an issue with pop culture necessarily, but when pop cultures starts melding with prison culture, then he has an issue.
“When the lines get blurred between the culture outside the jail and the culture within the jail,” he says, “I have to do something to redefine those boundaries, because they’ve been blurred far too often in public culture.”
He told mlive.com that his plan is working because many inmates don’t care for their new outfits.
“They don’t like it. They’ve been very verbal,” he says. “A lot of them have said, ‘We don’t like wearing black-and-white stripes.’ And my response is, ‘Too bad. Don’t come to jail.’ If you come to dinner at my house and you don’t like what I’m serving, don’t come back. If you don’t like the food, don’t come back. If you don’t like the clothes that I give you, don’t come back. I didn’t ask you to come wear this uniform.”
Federspiel says he’s not trying to be mean, but the last thing he wants is for inmates getting “too comfortable.”