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MDOC looks to legislature to change prison uniforms

Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall is asking to remove stripes and the word ‘convict’ from prisoners’ uniforms.

Mississippi is one of the last states to change what its prison uniform looks like with regards to the stripes and the connotation of the word ‘convict’ on the back of the uniforms. As the department discussed its re-entry efforts, Hall said one of the first things they took a look at were the uniforms.

The House Corrections Committee approved Hall’s request for the uniform change and the bill will now move to be taken up by the full House.

“We are looking at basically how to bring a level of humanity to the process of rehabilitation of the individuals in our system,” said Hall.

Hall spoke to the panel’s members shortly before they voted and said re-entry is not just one thing but is multi-faceted.

“People feel better when you give them a sense of hope,” said Hall. “What they look like and what they are called matter.”

The current uniform cost is $676,000. The new uniform could be $400,000 more in a one-time cost.

“Once the change is made you are still going to be in the same financial range as now,” she said. “We are not asking for additional resources to do this.”

The department is still considering what the new look will be, as the bill moves through the legislative process. But Hall said the new uniform will be more like a color-coded scrub, possible denim pants, or a solid color with the classification on the back.

With criminal justice reform on the forefront nationally and in the state and the proposal being a part of the criminal justice reform package.

“The timing is right,” said Hall.

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