Can You Wear Jordan’s in Prison?

When you are sentenced to time in prison and placed into custody, the process of stripping away your personal identity immediately begins. Officers take away your clothes and all personal belongings and give you a jail uniform to wear while you wait for your transfer to prison.

In prison life, conformity is key. Prison officials want every inmate to be dressed the same in every way. From underwear to uniforms, when you are outside of your cell or the rec yard, inmates need to look the same. If – for any reason – an inmate is wearing a piece of clothing that is not prison issued or available for purchase at the commissary, it can be considered an escape attempt.

Prisons are very strict when it comes to an inmate’s clothing. But, are they just as strict when it comes to shoes? Can you wear Jordan’s in prison?

In today’s blog post, inmate Mistie Vance will cover the following topics:

  • Brand name tennis shoes are rare in prison
  • Inmates in work release have more shoe options
  • The prison issues every inmate a pair of boots

Brand name tennis shoes are rare in prison

In a perfect world, we would definitely be able to wear Jordan’s in prison! Jordan’s and Skechers and Adidas. Unfortunately, the reality is that – at least in the two prisons I have done time in – our options run a little more toward the cheap and ugly. Jordan’s are not an option.

In the prison I currently reside in, Chillicothe Correctional Center, we have two options in shoe brands. Our first option are plain white, low top Rawlings tennis shoes. With tax they run around $25. With some luck, you might get them to last a few months before the plastic piece in the heel comes through the cloth and starts cutting into your ankle. 

Option number two is plain white, low top New Balance shoes in a choice of men’s or women’s ( since I am in a women’s institution), at a price of about $65. They do last slightly longer, but still need to be replaced every six months to a year.

Inmates in work release have more shoe options

The only exception to our two amazing choices in shoes, is for offenders who work in a work release program. They work either on a MoDot (Missouri Department of Transportation) or city crew, or at the local nursing facility. 

These inmates are allowed to order shoes or boots from an approved vendor, but can’t spend more than a certain amount. Definitely not enough to buy an expensive pair of Jordans!

The prison issues every inmate a pair of boots

All offenders are issued a pair of state boots upon entering the institution. They are black ankle boots, highly uncomfortable, with no arch support or padding and are to be worn at many of the jobs available in the facility. 

For inmates who owe money on their books or have no one to send them money, state boots are all they will ever have the option of wearing. For a small amount, we are able to purchase orange slides, but they are only allowed to be worn on the housing unit or at recreation. 

We are lucky enough in this institution to be able to check out tennis shoes at recreation to work out or play sports in, as state boots are not to be worn on the gym floor or work out equipment. This gives all offenders an equal opportunity to engage in physical activity. Besides boots, the only other footwear issued upon arrival are shower shoes and are only allowed on the wing unless an offender has an IOC (permission from the prison) to wear them elsewhere.

One of the jobs where state boots are the required footwear is food service. Imagine standing for hours in the most uncomfortable shoe you have ever worn in your life! No one escapes without at least a few blisters and a definite foot ache at the end of a shift!

I personally got a blister that was at least an inch on the very bottom of my foot…ouch! For someone who is completely flat footed and has bunyons, state boots are a form of slow torture.

Even for people with perfect feet, they won’t be perfect for long after a day in these boots! I’m pretty sure that is part of the punishment of prison, having to wear specially designed torture boots!

Have you worn a pair of state-issued boots? Let us know in the comments below.

Essay from inmate Mistie Vance, Chillicothe Correctional Center, Chillicothe, Missouri

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