- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Prisoners at one Hawaii jail have traded solid-colored jumpsuits for stripes.

Inmates at the Halawa Correctional Facility have been outfitted in horizontally striped uniforms, a look that harkens back to the 1940s, Hawaii News Now reported (https://is.gd/0aubZE).

The change was made out of safety concerns, said Ted Sakai, the director of the Department of Public Safety.

“It was becoming more difficult to readily identify inmate from staff. For example, health care staff tend to wear scrubs of different colors,” Sakai said.

Now the only prisoners wearing jumpsuits are those in orange, signifying the highest security inmates.

The other prisoners are wearing stripes, with different colors signifying their status inside the facility. Red and white stripes, for instance, signify those inmates who are one step below maximum security.

Black and white stripes are reserved for general population, and blue and white stripes indicate an inmate in protective custody.

The change in inmate clothing has critics.

“Stripes is not the way to do it. That’s just debasing, humiliating and really inhumane,” said Kat Brady, who is with the Community Alliance on Prisons.

Brady said the striped uniforms conjure images from history and pop culture that can have a negative effect on an inmate’s self-esteem.

She said 95 percent of those incarcerated will return to the community.

“And to humiliate them and to make them feel like nothing and then return them to the community, what do we expect will happen?” she said.

Sakai said inmates dealing with low self-esteem is not a new dynamic, and it isn’t something specific to this striped clothing.

And while he agrees with some of Brady’s views, he said his top priority is not vested in an inmate’s appearance.

“I don’t particularly like the stripes myself, but the warden’s first responsibility is security, the safety of the inmate population, the staff that work there and the safety of the community,” he said.


Information from: KHNL-TV, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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