The process of stripping you of your personal identity begins immediately when you are sentenced to jail and detained. The officer will take your clothes and all personal belongings and give you a prison uniform to wear while you await your transfer to the prison.
In prison life, obedience is key. Prison officials expect every prisoner to dress the same in every way. From underwear to uniforms, prisoners need to look the same when you’re in your cell or outside the entertainment complex. If – for any reason – the prisoner wears a piece of clothing that is not issued by the prison or available for purchase at the commissary, it can be considered an escape attempt.
Prisons have very strict dress codes for prisoners. But, are they just as strict when it comes to shoes? Can you wear Jordans in prison?
In today’s blog post, inmate Mistie Vance will cover the following topics:
- Designer tennis shoes are rare in prisons
- Prisoners released from work have more shoe options
- The prison gives every prisoner a pair of boots
Designer tennis shoes are rare in prisons
In a perfect world, we could definitely wear Jordans in prison! Jordan, Skechers and Adidas. Unfortunately, the reality is – at least in the two prisons I’ve been in – that our options lean more toward the cheap and the ugly. Jordan was not an option.
At Chillicothe Correctional Center, the prison where I currently live, we have two shoe brands to choose from. Our first choice is the plain white low-top Rollins tennis shoe. They cost about $25 including tax. With any luck, you might keep them going for a few months until the piece of plastic in the heel cuts through the fabric and starts cutting into your ankle.
The second option is a plain white low-top New Balance shoe, available in men’s or women’s (since I’m at a women’s college), for about $65. They do last slightly longer, but still need to be replaced every six months to a year.
Prisoners released from work have more shoe options
The only exception to our two amazing shoe selections is for convicts working in the work release program. They either work with MoDot (Missouri Department of Transportation) or city staff, or with a local nursing facility.
These inmates can order shoes or boots from approved suppliers up to a certain amount. Definitely not enough to buy an expensive pair of Jordans!
The prison gives every prisoner a pair of boots
All criminals are given a pair of state boots when they enter the facility. They are black ankle boots, very uncomfortable, have no arch support or padding, and are worn for many jobs within the facility.
Prisoners who were in debt or had no one to send them money had no choice but to wear state boots. We can buy orange slides in small quantities, but they are only allowed to be worn in residential units or entertainment venues.
We are lucky at this establishment to be able to check out tennis shoes at leisure for exercising or participating in sports, as country boots cannot be worn on gym floors or exercise equipment. This provides equal opportunities for all offenders to participate in sporting activities. Apart from boots, the only other footwear issued on arrival are shower shoes, which are only to be worn in the wing unless the offender has an IOC (prison clearance) to wear them elsewhere.
One of the jobs that requires boots is food service. Imagine standing for hours in the most uncomfortable shoes you’ve ever worn in your life! Nobody can escape without at least a few blisters and obvious foot pain by the end of their shift!
I personally have at least an inch long blister on the bottom of my foot… ouch! State boots are a slow grind for someone with a completely flat foot and a bunion.
Even for someone with a perfect foot shape, it won’t be perfect after a day in these boots! I’m pretty sure it’s part of prison punishment to have to wear specially designed torture boots!
Did you wear a pair of country boots? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Essay from inmate Mistie Vance, Chillicothe Correctional Center, Chillicothe, Missouri