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Inmates' clothing matches offenses

It's somewhat of a hobby of the people at my work to peruse the Jackson County Jail inmate Web site. The other day I noticed that almost everyone is wearing the same shirt. It seems most wear an Adidas shirt and some wear a couple other variations. Why do they have them wear these over their regular inmate attire?

— Crystal H., Medford

Some people scan photos from runways and red carpets looking for the latest fashions, but you and your co-workers are the first we've heard of trend-spotting amongst local mug shots.

You're right, though, what they are wearing — which actually is their regular inmate attire — is eye-catching. That's the whole idea, explains Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters.

Inmates are assigned clothing based on classifications that take into account the type of charges they face, their history and other factors. For example, high-risk inmates that jail deputies want to keep an especially close eye on get a bright orange uniform, he said. Trustees wear a broad black and white stripe. Other classifications of inmates wear green or gray. The pale blue Adidas shirts with stripes on the shoulders are used for much of the general jail population. Of course, some booking photos are taken when people are still in their street clothes, too.

With lots of people coming and going and moving around in the jail, the color-coded uniforms give deputies an easy visual clue of who's who and where they are supposed to be, adding an extra layer of security.