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Mississippi Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Make Sagging Pants a Crime Punishable by Fines, Counseling

Mississippi Rep. Tom Weathersby has proposed a bill that would make wearing saggy pants a crime in the state. The Republican introduced the draft in the local House of Representatives to stop the fashion primarily worn by young Black men.

Should the measure become law, it would make it illegal to wear pants or shorts that “exposes underwear or body parts in an indecent or vulgar manner.” The first or second offense would result in an oral warning and notification of parents or guardians for minors. At the third offense, the pants sagger would be charged a $20 fine, which would increase by increments of 10 until the sixth time. Then, it and any subsequent offenses would result in a $100 fine and the Department of Human Services and the Department of Mental Health would conduct psychological and social counseling.

Both state departments have been gutted by budget cuts in the past couple of fiscal years. The bill, however, does not state how that will be rectified so that there is enough staff on hand to counsel all the people likely to break the proposed law.

Weathersby told Mississippi Today he would prefer people are fully clothed when they’re out and about.

“Personally, I like to see people dressed when they’re in public and I like to see people with their pants up,” he said.

He said the bill, which will go into effect on July 1, if passed, was filed after a constituent was worried about a group of young men wearing their pants below their waists. Weathersby said when the constituent asked the men to pull up their trousers, the group became combative.

Cities around the country have taken aim at men who sag their pants by similarly imposing fines. In 2015, the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit to stop fines against residents of Pagedale, Missouri, for wearing their clothes below their waist. A year earlier, Pikeville, Tennessee, called for a ban on the fashion style and sought to fine citizens with incident exposure if their pants fell more than three inches under their waist. That law went into effect like similar ones before it did in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida cities.

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