Dress Behind Bars: Prison Clothing as Criminality

by Juliet Ash

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From nineteenth-century broad arrows and black and white stripes to twenty first-century orange jumpsuits, prison clothing has both mirrored and bolstered the power of penal institutions over prisoners’ lives. Vividly illustrated and based on original research, including throughout the voices of the incarcerated, this book is a pioneering history and investigation of prison dress, which demystifies the experience of what it is like to be an imprisoned criminal. Juliet Ash takes the reader on a journey from the production of prison clothing to the bodies of its wearers. She uncovers a history characterized by waves of reform, sandwiched between regimes that use clothing as punishment and discovers how inmates use their dress to surmount, subvert or survive these punishment cultures. She reveals the hoods, the masks, and pink boxer shorts, near nakedness, even twenty first-century ‘civvies’ to be not just other types of uniform but political embodiments of the surveillance of everyday life.

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