Halawa inmates wearing horizontally striped uniforms

Published: Sep. 2, 2014 at 6:46 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 3, 2014 at 4:18 AM HST
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HALAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a new spin on an old look. Inmates in the Halawa Correctional Facility are wearing horizontally striped uniforms.

The prison's warden made the change citing safety concerns. Ted Sakai, the Director of the Department of Public Safety, gave his blessing.

"It was becoming more difficult to readily identify inmate from staff. For example, healthcare staff tend to wear scrubs of different colors" Sakai said.

While the highest security inmates wear solid bright orange outfits, all others are in some form of color-coded stripes.

"Closed" level inmates, one step below maximum, are in red and white stripes. Protective custody inmates wear blue and white. Workline inmates wear green and white, while general population inmates wear black and white.

The look has some critics.

"Stripes is not the way to do it. That's just debasing, humiliating and really inhumane" said Kat Brady of the Community Alliance on Prisons.

She contends the stripes conjure images from history and pop culture which can have a negative effect on an inmate's self esteem.

"95 percent of the people are going to come back to the community. And to humiliate them and to make them feel like nothing and then return them to the community, what do we expect will happen?"

Sakai said inmate's dealing with low self esteem is not new or specific to the striping. He agrees with Brady on some of her viewpoints, but maintains his top priority is not vested in the inmate's appearance.

"I don't particularly like the stripes myself, but the warden's first responsibility is security, the safety of the inmate population, the staff that work there, and the safety of the community".

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