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Dressing for success at the Box Elder County Jail

By Mark Saal - | Jul 12, 2016

Who knew visiting the jail could be so much like attending an LDS stake dance?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, already known for its fairly strict standards of modesty in dress and grooming, is particularly persnickety when it comes to church dances. After all, you don't want young people at the height of their hormonal production cycles gyrating around in suggestive or revealing clothing; there's no telling what it could lead to. (Possibly more Mormons?)

Well, apparently, the Box Elder County Jail has similar concerns. As it turns out, the jail has a dress code that is reminiscent of one of these LDS social functions. The Brigham City-based facility's website features a detailed list of visitation rules for the jail, and some of the rules are just plain common sense:

• No contraband.

• You can't be in possession, or under the influence, of drugs or alcohol.

• I also assume weapons aren't allowed at the jail, although I couldn't find a specific mention of that fact in the visitation rules.

As for the jail's dress code, most of it is completely understandable. Like Rule 13, which states: "For security reasons, visitors must not wear clothing in any way resembles (sic) jail issued inmate clothing."

Imagine the ensuing confusion if all jail visitors dressed as if orange truly was the new black.

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But then comes Rule 14: "All visitors shall be modestly dressed to be permitted access to the visiting area." Modestly dressed.

And just in case you're a bit fuzzy about the whole concept, Rule 14 goes on to define the term: "No bare midriffs, see through blouses, tube or tank tops, sleeve-less shirts, stretch pants (sic) are allowed. Dresses, skirts, split skirts, or culottes must touch the bottom of the kneecap. Tight, suggestive or sexually revealing attire is forbidden."

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So lemme get this straight: You can't wear a sleeveless shirt, a pair of shorts that don't at least cover your knees, or stretch pants? Doesn't that disqualify a huge percentage of the people in Utah?

I called Commander Sandy Huthman, who supervises the corrections division for Box Elder County. She admitted the jail's dress code had been in place for a number of years, and that it might be a tad outdated.

"Maybe after talking to you the dress code needs to be revamped," she said. "I think we will. Absolutely."

Then, she added, "What's a culotte?"

Huthman said that, as the times change, so do the fashions.

"We're just trying to make sure nobody feels uncomfortable when they come in with their kids," she said.

The Box Elder County Jail dress code even includes language for enforcement: "Visitors in violation of this dress code will be sent home to change before they can visit."

Ah, the dreaded being-sent-home-to-change. My sisters ran afoul of that one more than a few times back in junior high school.

Huthman said her corrections officers have actually been quite reasonable with their enforcement of the dress code, and that infractions don't happen very often. In fact, in 10 years of working at the jail, she can't think of a time when someone was sent home to change.

"I cannot think of a single instance that it has cropped up," Huthman said.

We're assuming, of course, that that the dress code only applies to those visiting the jail. Because otherwise, it could make for some decidedly awkward moments in law enforcement ...

CRIMINAL: OK, officer. Now that you've caught me red-handed robbing this bank, what happens next?

COP: Well, ordinarily I'd arrest you right on the spot. But since you're wearing a tank top and cutoff shorts that don't quite reach to your knees, I'm afraid your attire doesn't meet our jail's exacting dress standards. All I can say is you'd better hope we never catch you committing a crime in a white shirt, tie and polyester slacks.

Huthman said that, now that the Standard-Examiner has pointed out the antiquated dress code, she suspects it will be updated in the near future.

"You've brought something to my attention," Huthman said with a laugh. "And now I have to go and get some culottes."

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.

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