County jail inmates to get striped uniforms

The change is an effort to avoid confusion with similar fashions in the community.
Tuesday, August 5, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:02 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Johnny Cash once sang, “I got stripes — stripes around my shoulders.” Early next year, the inmates at the Boone County Jail will be seeing stripes of their own.

Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm said the jail will make the fashion change as it switches from the current solid orange and solid green to the traditional black and white.

The switch to the stripes is not just nostalgic. Boehm said the current style of jail uniforms are showing up on the streets. “I see people at least once a week walking down the street in the jumpsuits,” he said. “I get quite concerned.”

Boehm added that some of the jumpsuits he sees have “County Jail” written on them followed by numbers. He said, “It makes me think, ‘Does that person belong in jail? Did he take my property?’”

Some retailers sell the jumpsuits as novelties, and a search on eBay yielded more than 20 entries for prison garb.

Boehm said the prevalence of look-alike uniforms has “forced us to go back to the old black-and-white uniforms.”

The uniform change won’t be immediate because the current uniforms are still in good use.

“We want to utilize what we have now,” Boehm said. “We’re going to re-evaluate what we have in storage, and the first of the year seems to be a good time to make the switch.”

Jail trustees will continue to wear the current colors when the rest of the inmates switch to the stripes. Trustees are inmates that have not caused problems behind bars and are allowed to work within the jail and out in the community.

Maj. Warren Brewer at the county jail said there is a significant amount of both colored and striped uniforms in storage. He said he won’t start distributing the uniforms until he gets the implementation date.

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