Michigan inmates to get black-and-white striped uniforms. Orange is now too cool, sheriff says.


Inmates at the Saginaw County Jail in Saginaw, Mich., wear the new black and white jumpsuits. (AP Photo/The Saginaw News/MLive.com, Jeff Schrier)

Now that orange has become the new black, black-and-white stripes have become the new orange — after a Michigan sheriff gave his inmates a wardrobe change to keep them from looking “cool.”

The once all-orange jumpsuits at Saginaw County Jail in Michigan took on a different meaning amid hype surrounding the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said.

So, Saginaw County went back to basics — the horizontal stripes reminiscent of 19th-century prison garb. Federspiel told Reuters the decision was spurred by a juror who recently wore all orange during a trial.

“When the lines get blurred between the culture outside the jail and the culture within the jail, I have to do something to redefine those boundaries because they’ve been blurred far too often in public culture,” he told MLive.com, referring to clothing that depicts prison culture, including some that are stamped with “Property of the Saginaw County Jail.” “I’ve seen that,” he added. “It’s like ‘What are you doing? Really?’”

Federspiel said he doesn’t expect the uniform change to be complete until the end of the year, though some inmates are already voicing opposition.

“For me, it was an easy decision,” he told Reuters. “It was a cost savings and it breaks away from that cultural coolness. It’s not cool to be an inmate of the Saginaw County Jail.”

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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