A memo for Crusher: say knickers to the critics and cut down on prison underwear costs

Alf is hoping for a chat with Crusher Collins next week, to give her a steer on how to further trim the Corrections Department budget.

He has been attracted by an idea being implemented in Florida, where prisoners are being stripped of their free underwear in a bid to save taxpayers’ money.

Inmates at the Polk County jail, Florida, will no longer receive free boxer shorts or briefs, in a move expected to save $45,000 (£27,900) a year.

Sheriff Grady Judd said prisoners at Polk County who refuse to pay for boxers instead will be ‘free spirits’.

Sheriff Judd should be brought out here for a chat with the Correctiond Department. His previous cutbacks have included substituting powdered milk for fresh in the canteen and pulling down the prison’s basketball hoops, saying ‘This is the county jail, it’s not a welfare programme.’

And now he is saying:

‘There is no state law or federal law that says we have to provide underwear in county jail, so they’ll just be free spirits.’

Inmates will have to pay $4.50 for a pair of boxers or $2.50 for briefs – or go commando.

Female prisoners will still receive a set of four bras and seven pairs of panties for free.

This, of course, is unfair and Alf has some sympathy with the notion that this cost-cutting measure could anger equal rights groups because is being applied only to male inmates.

The idea has its variants.

Prisoners at the central Illinois prison are reported to being forced to wear the same pair of underwear for several days in a row because the jail cannot afford more undergarments.

A report issued by the John Howard Association shows that inmates in the prison are wearing dirty and threadbare clothes that are only being washed twice a week, raising “serious hygiene concerns.” Several inmates reported much of the original clothing they received to wear — three pairs of pants, three shirts, one jacket, one hat, two pairs of boxers and two pairs of socks — are already used, soiled or in otherwise poor condition when they receive them.

The group is calling for the state Department of Corrections to remedy the situation and provide sufficient clothing for its inmates, in addition to looking at other issues — like overcrowding and a lack of in-facility educational programs. They say such programs can reduce the rate of recidivism.

But a department spokesperson said they are “doing their best” given the state budget constraints and the decision by Governor Pat Quinn to abruptly end an early prison release system last year.

Largely due to that decision, the Taylorville facility, like other prisons, is currently holding some 1,200 inmates — double what it was built to hold.

Prisons in Washington (the state) are reported to be issuing inmates with used uniforms, recycled underwear and shorter socks in an effort to cut costs.

The state Department of Corrections (DOC) has begun collecting used uniforms and underwear from inmates before they leave prison.

After minor repairs and laundering the clothing is passed on to new inmates, with half the clothing being handed out at the state’s 13 prisons now being recycled.

Any clothing that cannot be used is sold to local businesses as rags.

The traditional 1970s vintage tube sock have been scrapped in favour of cheaper, shorter ankle socks, at a saving of $22,000 annually.

In this country, Alf understands, some of our prisons have a tailor shop.

He has dug out a report titled Case Study: An Analysis of the Host Community Experience of Rolleston Prison

With a title like that he suspects it was not a best-seller.

It says a tailor’s shop operates within the prison’s Kia Marama unit and has done so for the past 23 years.

At present it is one of the biggest prison tailor shops in New Zealand. Fourteen to sixteen inmates
work seven hour days five days a week, manufacturing on average 400 garments a week. These
include uniforms for inmates throughout New Zealand prisons ranging from underwear through to
regulation shirts and jeans, curtains for cells, punch bags for the gym, and straight jackets for
Christchurch Women’s Prison.

Obviously costs are reduced by making prison clothing inside the prison.

But we can still make savings by requiring the jailbirds to pay for their underwear or go without.

So lock em up in containers, and deprive them of their trunks.

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