An Alabama man was given a three-day jail sentence on Tuesday after a judge took offense with his saggy blue jeans.
LaMarcus D. Ramsey, a 20-year-old man from Pratville, Alabama, was in Autauga County Circuit Court on Tuesday to enter a plea for charges of receiving stolen property when Circuit Judge John Bush ordered him to serve a three-day jail sentence for wearing his blue jeans too low.
"You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court," Bush told Ramsey on Tuesday. "You can spend three days in jail. When you get out you can buy pants that fit, or at least get a belt to hold up your pants so your underwear doesn't show."
A call to the Autauga County Circuit Court clerk's office was not immediately returned.
Contempt of court laws are murky and vary from state to state. In general, the contempt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and a person may be held in contempt of court for unacceptable behavior in the presence of a judge. Punishments vary from warnings to imprisonment, but are immediately and unconditionally imposed. In some places, actions like yawning are considered contempt of court.
Saggy pants, hooded sweatshirts, and untied shoes have recently become a flash point of sorts. Some have suggested that the fashion of wearing baggy, sagging pants started because guards take away belts and shoelaces in jails.
In August 2011, after a series of flash mobs in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael A. Nutter lectured the city's youths, saying "Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer. Pull your pants up and buy a belt 'cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt."
Most recently, the imbroglio over the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida has garnered international attention, specifically because Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt on the night of his death.
"To me it's not any different than if someone stood up in court and started cussing everybody out," Judge Bush said of the incident. "It's disrespectful conduct and I think as judges we're expected to at least have some degree of control and respect for the courtroom the people have given us charge of."