One of my first job
leads interviews - in that crap-fest economy of 1984 - was as a 'Classification's Officer' at what is now Florida State Prison but was then simply known as Raiford. I was given a tour and told about life 'under the whistle,' free car washes, hand made wallets and the luxury of life as a non-inmate living on prison grounds. The pay wasn't bad, free housing and most meals were free. I thought it would be a hell of an experience.
The prospect of this life ended when I was shown the graveyard for prisoners who died or were executed (by Old Sparky - the electric chair) and whose remains were not claimed. The graves had no names -- only the deceased's number stamped into aluminum. As I looked at the sunken plots all talk of the position; "You'll be assigning jobs when they come in and helping 'em get jobs when they get out," was lost on me. I knew I would never come back to this shit hole. So far so good.
About two years ago I first saw prison denim showing up in the Japanese men's magazines. Huge, Men's Club and even Last. I remember thinking, "Only the Japanese" but the look has moved to America. I'm not sure what critics of aspirational dress would call dressing like a prisoner circa 1945. Maybe, "Heritage Correctional" or "Aspirational Incarceration."
I know I have defended anyone's right to wear whatever the hell they want. "You can tell me I shouldn't wear it but no one can tell me I can't," was my bumper sticker slogan in defense of work wear seen here. With some hindsight I'd like to change that to, "Better you than me."