[Humor] Doin' time in TX, the pink way

Jim C. Nasby jim at nasby.net
Wed Oct 11 09:46:01 CDT 2006

By MATT PHINNEY, mphinney at sastandardtimes.com or 659-8253
October 8, 2006 

MASON - Three county inmates in the jail here lay on their bunks, not
saying much. 

They wore pink jumpsuits and pink slippers, and one was wrapped up in
pink sheets. They were surrounded by pink bars and pink walls. 

They were not comfortable. 

Despite the cramped condition of the tiny jail, the inmates said sitting
there was better than working outside, where they might be seen by
people they know. Using pink uniforms in a pink jail is a small step to
deter inmates from ever wanting to spend more time in the Mason County
Jail, a jail that might be getting too old to operate, said Sheriff
Clint Low. 

''The county would have more inmate labor without them,'' said one
inmate, who did not want to be identified. 

''I'm not going outside in these things. It's a good deterrent because I
don't want to wear them anymore.'' 

''You can make that two,'' another inmate said from a different cell. 

''You can probably make it three or four,'' the inmate added. 

That's exactly Low's point. 

Low bought pink jumpsuits soon after taking office in 2005 and painted
the jail pink about eight months ago. The jumpsuits are to keep inmates
from coming back to jail, and the pink walls are designed to keep
tempers and emotions cool in a jail that is tiny by today's standards. 

Even if it helps a little, keeps just a few inmates from returning to
the Mason County Jail, Low said, it's a success. 

Mason County, with about 3,800 residents, is about 100 miles southeast
of San Angelo. The jail is in Mason, the county seat. 

Low got the idea of pink jumpsuits from a sheriff in Arizona, Joe
Arpaio, who bought pink boxers to keep inmates from stealing the
underwear and other clothing. In Mason, Low dyed the jumpsuits and
slippers pink, and the color later bled to sheets, underwear and other
articles during washings. 

Low, who was a deputy in Mason before being elected sheriff, estimated
the re-offense rate in the county is down 70 percent since he switched
to pink jumpsuits for the inmates. He also said there have been no
fights between inmates in the jail since it was painted. 

''I wanted to stop re-offenders,'' Low said. ''They don't want to wear
them. Working inmates get a choice to work outside or sit inside, and
some choose to sit inside because they don't want people to see them.
They would rather stay upstairs.'' 

The jail, built in 1894, is a historical site, and Low said he doesn't
want to do anything to take away from its historical significance. In
fact, it might be a better museum than a jail, he said. 

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