Thursday, May 5, 2011

Please, Get Rid Of Those Absurb Prison Uniforms

If nothing else good comes out of the Anthony Pacherille case, can we at least get rid of those anachronistic black-and-white striped uniforms the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department reintroduced with the election of Sheriff Rich Devlin?
They are ridiculous and heart-sinking at the same time, bringing to mind both Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and mistreatment of prisoners, many black, in the Jim Crow South.
Previously, county inmates wore bright orange jumpsuits with “inmate” clearly marked on the back.  No one was in danger of mistaking anyone of them for Scouts.
Anyone of us who aspires to see Otsego County as buoyant, forward-looking, problem-solving community must cringe every time a striped and shackled crew comes into view.
Most county jail inmates are local people and shorttermers who will be back among us in a few months.  Treating them with respect and consideration certainly is a more successful strategy then demeaning and humiliating them.
Let’s get with the 21st Century.

The poster from a Paul Muni movie from 1932 shows the black-and-white striped uniforms, the common garb for chain gangs in the South.

Amanda Hoepker/The Freeman’s Journal
Almost 80 years later, Anthony Pacherille and another inmate in the same black-and-white when led into Otsego County Court Friday, April 29.

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