International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Saggy Pants Ordinance Analysis: Disparate Impact versus Respectability
Jason Armstrong, Sarah Kuck

The criminalization of how one wears their clothing has been a contentious topic of debate in many communities in the United States. Several municipalities have made it a crime to have “saggy pants”. Saggy or sagging pants are defined as the wearing of pants so far below the waist that it exposes one’s undergarments to others. This style of wearing one’s clothing began in U.S. prisons and spread across the country. While any person of any gender, race, or ethnic background can wear saggy pants, the style is typically associated with a particular demographic: black males. The city of Albany, Georgia passed a law banning saggy pants in 2010. This article reviews the data of saggy pants citations issued and the surrounding constitutional issues of criminalizing a clothing style. From 2011 to 2019, the Albany Police Department issued 1,298 saggy pants citations. 1,237 or 95.3% were issued to black males and females. White males and females received the remaining 4.7% of citations. Albany’s racial make-up is 73.5% black, 22.7% white, and 2.3% Latino. The constitutionality of the ordinance is also in question. Some judges have ruled against saggy pants ordinances and at least one state has refused to pass such as a law as it was deemed unconstitutional. The current political and social climate requires further scrutiny and evaluation of existing ordinances that inordinately impact minority populations and can impose unintended consequences.

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