News & Politics

Florida Town Makes It a Jailable Offense to Wear Saggy Pants

Anyone caught wearing low-hanging pants in Ocala faces a six-month jail sentence and $500 fine

Photo Credit: YouTube

This week, Ocala Florida City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting anyone on city property from wearing their trousers two inches below their waist, Channel 9’s WFTV reported.

The “sagging pants” regulation is enforceable on sidewalks, streets, parks, sports, recreation and public transportation facilities and parking lots. 

Police are expected to issue warnings at first, however failure to comply after being cautioned may lead to a $500 fine or up to six months in jail time.

Councilwoman Mary Rich, who pushed for the ordinance that was originally rejected in 2009 because no one would back the motion, said she expects the new rules will tidy up the city’s image.

"I just think it's disgraceful to show your underwear.  We try to be a nice, clean city.  I think it'll help clean it up some,” she said.

Yet, critics of the ordinance expressed concern that such laws could lead to racial profiling with young, black men, the number one target.

"I think this is a form of harassment. It gets you pulled to the side, (so they can) harass you, search you and have a right to do whatever they want to,” resident Curt Brown told the station.

What’s more, while Rich has compared the ordinance to the Marion County school system dress code, residents say school rules regulations are very different to enforcing an ordinance classified as a second-degree misdemeanor in which failure to comply can land you in jail.

"It just makes no sense whatsoever. It's another way to lock people up and put them in jail so the city can make money off of that,” resident Adia Crumley said.

Still, Rich insists that targeting specific groups is not her intention:  “It doesn’t matter what color they are, they all wear their pants down.”

Ocala city attorney Patrick Gilligan said that while authorities are not looking to charge people, it would not be tough to enforce.

"If they don't comply, I think the chief will tell police officers to take your phone out and take a picture,” he told Ocala Star Banner.

Ocala is not the first town to ban sagging pants. Other cities across the country, including New Jersey, New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Miami have also enforced various ordinances to cut down on the saggy pants problem, according to the Washington Post.

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.


Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018