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Constitutional Law

Sheriff Arpaio’s Pink-Underwear Policy May Violate Rights of Unconvicted Inmates, 9th Circuit Says

Posted Mar 7, 2012 7:27 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A nationally known Arizona sheriff's requirement that inmates at his jail don pink underwear could be unconstitutional, as far as those not yet convicted of a crime are concerned, a federal appeals court says.

But the comment in a written opinion by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't have the force of law, because the pink-underwear issue wasn't raised on appeal, Reuters reports.

"Unexplained and undefended, the dress-out in pink appears to be punishment without legal justification," said the majority of a three-judge panel in its written opinion concerning another Maricopa County matter.

And, while inmates' pink underwear is not a topic on which the 9th Circuit can presently offer a decisive ruling, "it appears to us that this question is still open for exploration at trial on remand," the majority notes.

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