“Orange Is The New Black” has become such a pop culture hit, that a Michigan Sheriff is making his inmates to switch up their look.
Sheriff William Federspiel has noticed a perplexing trend among free women out in public: they’re starting to look like inmates! He told the Saginaw County News that he’s spied women “wearing all orange jumpsuits out at the mall or in public.”
It’s all part of a trend that he’s sure was inspired by Netflix’s hit prison drama, but he doesn’t see the appeal of looking like a convict. ”I see a lot of people wearing all orange, and they think it’s cool. And some people even put ‘Property of the Saginaw County Jail’ on the back of it. I’ve seen that. It’s like, ‘What are you doing? Really?’
For a group of women that wear the same thing every day, there isn’t much chance to be on trend. Due to the popularity of “Orange Is The New Black,” they have the rare opportunity to be in style by default. It’s a small thing to many, but for the women in lock up, it could be something that lifts their spirits. It might even allow them to reclaim some of the confidence they had before they were put away.
Needless to say, they’re not happy about authorities switching them over to a more vintage look. Saginaw County Jail is in the process of fitting all inmates with black-and-white stripped scrubs by the end of the year.
Sheriff William said the prisoners have complained about the change, but he sees their complaints as an indication that he’s on the right path. “It’s not to be crass. We’re not trying to embarrass or shame them,” he explained. “It tells me something, though, when the inmates think that it’s bad: It’s probably good.”
His personal style sensibilities aside, the uniform change actually appears to be a security measure. Women wearing prison uniforms in public makes it hard for Sheriff William and his guard to distinguish between real inmates and regular citizens when prisoners do community service outside.
“Orange Is The New Black” is also moving fans of the show to push for changes at the jail where the show was filmed. The Washington Post reports that conditions at Suffolk County’s Riverhead detention center are so deplorable the New York Civil Liberties Union started the social media campaign, #HumanityIsTheNewBlack.
In a lawsuit filed by NYCLU, the bathrooms Riverhead are a nightmare worse than what’s seen on the show. Toilets overflow into other stalls when flushed and the showers are covered in mold. Worse yet, the faucets run undrinkable brown water.
Things are so bad at Riverhead that intimates have even filed individual lawsuits against the facility. Eventually there were so many that NYCLU just lumped them all together in a class-action lawsuit.
“If you saw what we have seen and heard happening in this jail, you might think that it is Hollywood pushing it, but in fact that’s the reality,” a NYCLU senior staff attorney named Corey Stoughton told the Post. “These are not conditions that we think any human being should be held in.”