Skip to Content

Can You Have Dreads In Prison?

Can You Have Dreads In Prison?

When you go to jail, everything is taken away. Everything from your personal possessions to your clothes is boxed up and you come out in national dress carrying a bag full of pillows, blankets, towels and some basic toiletries.

No tolerance for personal style behind bars. Even if you have an amazing hairstyle and color, it can quickly fade due to lack of hair products and accessories. In the prison I’m in, you can’t even buy a decent comb!

So what are the rules in prison when you have a unique hairstyle like dreadlocks? In this blog post, I’m going to try to answer the question: Can you be scared in prison?

I will also introduce:

  • Prison Inmate Hair Policy
  • Prison Inmate Hair Policy

Prison Inmate Hair Policy

Proper hygiene is a must in prisons. In fact, it is also written in the prison rules that if you do not take a bath or take care of yourself, you will be punished. You will also face the wrath of other prisoners. When it comes to your hair, you should shampoo it regularly and keep it clean and brushed.

In prisons, no matter whether you are a man or a woman, there is usually no specific regulation on the length of the prisoner’s hair. You just need to dress yourself up and look good. However, this has started to change in recent years due to contraband issues. Some inmates hide contraband in their long hair, so some prisons have begun enforcing hair length rules to address the problem.

Yes, most prisons allow you to grow your hair long as well as braids, but there are exceptions depending on the state. However, if officials or administrators don’t like your fear for some reason, or if you have lice, they can force you to cut your hair. After all, what are you going to do to stop them? There is nothing you can do. They literally tie you up and cut your hair off, and prisoners have no legal recourse unless their fear is part of their religion.

Cecil Koger, an inmate at the Trumbull Correctional Institute in Leavittsburg, Ohio, filed the lawsuit alleging that officials repeatedly cut off his long hair Locks of hair, which violated his civil rights and interfered with his religious beliefs.

Legally, prisons cannot interfere with the religious beliefs and customs of prisoners. So, if the prisoner is Rastafarian, they have the right to have braids and should not be interfered with.

Here’s the thing… there’s “official policy” and then there’s reality. In my experience, most officers and prison officials don’t seem to see prisoners as people, which means they don’t see them as people. This results in guards and administrators being able to do whatever they want with prisoners with no consequences. If they can put a person in solitary confinement for years at a time as punishment, what’s to stop them from cutting someone’s hair if they don’t like it?

Prison Inmate Hair Policy

When it comes to fear in prison, the rules are everywhere. Every city, county, and sheriff runs prisons differently, so there are no set rules when it comes to inmates’ hair, or more specifically, dreadlocks.

Like prisons, most prisons require you to be tidy. However, doing this in a county jail can be very difficult. They don’t provide you enough hygiene products to keep you clean. So, if you don’t have people to send you money, you’re going to be pretty nasty pretty quickly.

Some sheriffs have been known to cut off their braids, like the officers in Trumbull CI. An inmate at the Portsmouth, Va., prison was forcibly strapped to a chair by prison response teams wearing face masks, shock shields and guns.

The men chopped off the dreadlocks that took prisoner Bernard Garris 13 years to grow in just minutes. Gareth, who is a Rastafarian, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for violating his probation.

“When you come here, you have two options: you can have your hair cut, or we’ll cut it for you,” Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson said. “You have to understand. This is Portsmouth City Jail, not the Hilton Hotel. You’re not going to be a street thug in our jail.”

With that sarcasm, it seems to me that Sheriff Watson doesn’t care about the people in his prison at all, he wants to exercise his power instead. Watson claimed he had a “no long hair” policy because of contraband issues, and that the religion of the inmates was irrelevant. Unfortunately, many sheriffs and prison officials across the country agree with him.

When you’re in prison, everything is taken away from you – even your dignity.

Do you think prisoners should be allowed to wear whatever hairstyle they choose? Let us know in the comments below.


Inmate sues prison for repeatedly cutting his dreadlocks, claims civil rights were violated  

style="font-weight: 400;">Dreadlocks gone, Portsmouth inmate cries foul over forced haircut