Hot pink jail uniforms draw criticism

June 1, 2010 at 12:32 PM

NORMAN, Okla., June 1 (UPI) -- An Oklahoma sheriff said his county's jail uniforms, which critics contend are designed to embarrass, are meant to make fugitives easily identifiable.

Some critics said the uniforms approved by Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester, which feature hot pink shirts and yellow-and-white striped pants, are meant to embarrass prisoners, The Oklahoman reported Tuesday.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the intent was to humiliate them," attorney Fred Shaeffer said. "A lot of innocent people get arrested and go through that jail, and everyone is supposed to be presumed innocent until they are found guilty. It's bad enough to be arrested, but to then be humiliated by having to wear a costume like that is wrong."

Undersheriff Rhett Burnett said the uniforms are designed to help positively identify escaped prisoners with a glance. He said the old orange uniforms were too similar to medical scrubs, which have become a popular fashion in the area.

"It's become popular to wear those green or blue medical uniforms, and you can also buy similar orange ones. Particularly, in Norman, orange is a popular color because it's one of Norman High School's colors," Burnett said.

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