This is the first draft of a letter I’m submitting to my local paper, which reported that the City of Grovetown in Columbia County, Georgia has purchased hot pink uniforms for its inmates.
Grovetown’s Director of Public Safety Gary Jones should immediately reverse his decision to dress inmates in “hot-pink” uniforms (Jan 25). He believes they demonstrate that he “run[s] the jail, not the inmates,” and the inmates, out of humiliation, won’t reoffend. He also thinks that we unincarcerated won’t commit crimes because we would also want to avoid being humiliated.
First, this fraternity house prank perpetuates harmful ideas about gender. By exploiting prevalent misogynistic ideas about “manhood,” this policy strengthens them.
The second is that there is no evidence that humiliating inmates leads to any of the positive results Chief Jones claims to seek.
Third, this bush-league policy exposes the City of Grovetown to expensive civil rights litigation.
Fourth, it’s morally indefensible. Prisoners deserve as much dignity as can be afforded while incarcerated.
Finally, this cheap publicity stunt harms the efforts of Augusta and Columbia County to attract businesses to the area.
The fact that Chief Jones cites serial human rights violator Joe Arpaio as his inspiration should be enough for sane people to question his judgment.
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) January 24, 2015
Updated January 27, 2015: Tennis legend Rafael Nadal is not ashamed of his hot pink shirt.
Updated January 29, 2015: The Augusta Chronicle published an editorial supporting Chief Jones’s decision on Jan 26. The Augusta Chronicle published my letter today. A friend brought to my attention the work of John Braithwaite on shaming inmates.