Jasper County OKs sagging pants ordinance

December 16, 2008 

  • The original ordinance included a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, which was not in the version passed Monday.

RIDGELAND -- Wearers of sagging pants in Jasper County beware: your fashion choice is now against the law.

The Jasper County Council passed an ordinance Monday that prohibits anyone from wearing pants more than three inches below the hips, exposing the skin or undergarments.

The ordinance also prohibits parents and guardians from allowing minors to appear in public with their pants more than three inches below the hips.

Those who don drooping pants in public face a fine of between $25 and $500. The law will be enforced by the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, municipal police officers and the Jasper County administrator.

The ordinance passed 2-1 at Monday's meeting, with council members LeRoy Blackshear, who originally proposed it in June, and Hubert Tyler absent.

Council member Gladys Jones was the lone vote against the ordinance.

She said while she considers the popular style tacky, she feels the choice to wear sagging pants indicates the wearer has a negative self-image and could use help building it up.

"If we spent as much time on improving their quality of life and self-esteem as we did on this ordinance, that would be great," Jones said.

She said it was not the council's job to regulate clothing choices. "I think the government has no business telling parents how their children should dress."

Council chairman George Hood and vice chairman Fred Tuten disagreed, voting in favor of the ordinance.

Hood said banning sagging pants was a way for local adults to provide an example of positive work habits and social behavior for their children.

"You would be amazed at the progress that could be made when you show that you care," Hood said. "I hope the county will embrace the ordinance. We can help parents one by one."

Tuten said he was unsure how to vote on the proposal until Monday morning, when a photo on the front page of an area newspaper showed a resident with his pants hanging low off the waist.

"Right then I knew we shouldn't have to look at that any more," he said.

After approving a first and second reading in a 3-2 vote, the council tabled the third reading in late July to make adjustments to the penalties and ensure the ordinance's legality.

Point South resident Del Davidson sent Hood a letter Dec. 11 opposing the original ordinance but said at Monday's council meeting he appreciated the work done to revise it.

"The biggest thing that I'm really concerned about is it really doesn't need to be abused," Davidson said.

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