Michigan Inmates Wearing Black And White Stripes Because Orange Jumpsuits Are Now Cool

Orange is indeed the new black.

A sheriff in Michigan recently noticed a trend, in which people outside his local jail began wearing orange jumpsuits like those issued to prisoners. In response, he decided to revoke inmates’ newly hip orange threads in favor of something more classic: black and white stripes.

Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel told local news outlet MLive that because the orange jumpsuit had suddenly become cool, the jail-issued onesies were now a badge of honor — and he couldn’t have that.

“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.”

And so, Federspiel — who suspects that the TV show “Orange is the New Black” is partially to blame for the orange suit’s sudden increase in popularity — shelled out $11.73 each for old-school jumpsuits with thick, horizontal black and white stripes. Inmates are slowly being switched over to the new duds, and so far, he says, they aren’t happy.

“They don’t like it. They’ve been very verbal,” Federspiel told MLive. “A lot of them have said, ‘We don’t like wearing black-and-white stripes.’ And my response is, ‘Too bad. Don’t come to jail.’”


Over at Reddit, the topic provoked a heated debate about appropriate inmate attire, mostly because of Federspiel’s assertion that, “We don’t want them getting too comfortable, feeling like they’re productive members of society, when actually, when they’re incarcerated, they’re not.”

One Redditor summed it up thusly:

“I’m actually all in favor of the stripy jumpsuits for many of the same reasons they are. Obviously uniforms are a necessary measure. But reinforcing the whole ‘you have no right to identity, dignity, or opinions’ thing is just rubbing salt in the wound for fun.”


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