Jail for Sagging Pants: Fashion Police?
October 8, 2008 By Kathy McManus Comments (220)
We are a nation that pulls itself up by the bootstraps.
But are we also a nation that needs to pull up its pants?
A 17-year-old Florida boy was recently jailed overnight for violating a local “sagging
pants” law after a police officer spotted him riding his bike with his pants slung low
enough to reveal four or five inches of boxer shorts.
“Your Honor,” the boy’s public defender told the court, “We now have the fashion
A Florida judge later declared the law unconstitutional, but that hasn’t deterred
authorities in California, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and other jurisdictions
from proposing or enacting similar measures, arguing that the sagging fashion is akin to
The style of wearing over-sized pants that sag to reveal large expanses of underwear
started in prisons, where big pants were issued with no belts. In the 1990’s, the look
seeped into the popular culture—and under the skin of politicians and police.
“We’re not going to sit here and let that happen in Flint,” declared the police chief of
Flint, Michigan, where wearers of saggy pants can be arrested “if the pants are at the
knees and your underwear is exposed.” He calls the look “disorderly” and “immoral self-
The south Chicago suburb of Lynwood, which also bans the buns look, claims the fad has
gone so far as to effect economic growth and discourage businesses from investing in
ACLU attorneys counter, calling the laws “idiotic” and arguing that “You can’t arrest
people because of their style of dress.”
Tell us what you think: Should government be responsible for dictating what citizens can
wear? Is publically exposing your underwear freedom of expression, indecent exposure,
or your personal responsibility?