Pull’em up!: South Carolina wants to outlaw saggy pants

Pull’em up!: South Carolina wants to outlaw saggy pants
A new law in South Carolina would make it unlawful for people to expose skin or underwear by wearing their pants below their hips. The move is an attempt to curb the apparent popularity of saggy pants across the state.

South Carolina House Bill 4957 would make it illegal for a person to appear in public wearing trousers which are "three inches below the crest of his ileum exposing his skin or undergarments". It is presumed the lawmakers meant the ‘ilium’, (the hip bone) rather than the ‘ileum’ which is part of the small intestine.

"It's unbecoming, it's unprofessional", Democrat Representative Joe Jefferson from Berkeley County, one of the bill's sponsors, told WLTX.

Violations would not lead to a criminal record however, he assured his audience.

"I understand that some people are assuming that if one is caught, then they won't be allowed to go to college, grants, loans, all these other opportunities will be taken away. That's not the case at all. This is just to prevent these fellas and giving them at least an obligation to realize that they're walking around and they're convincing others to follow them.” Jefferson said.

Saggy pants could lead to offenders getting caught short in more ways than one. A first-time violation would incur a fine of $25. Thereafter, it would be $50 or three hours of community service for a second offense, and $75 or six hours of community service for a third offense or more.

Civil rights groups fear that the bill unfairly targets ethnic minorities, and African-American men in particular.

Introducing a bill to criminalize sagging pants will disproportionately affect minorities in communities and schools, is a waste of taxpayers’ money, and an attempt to sustain debtor’s prisons in South Carolina,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted on Twitter on Thursday.

In 2015, a 38-year-old African American man, Ervin Leon Edwards, was tasered to death by police in Louisiana police after being arrested for wearing ‘sagging pants.’

Jefferson denied that the bill will unfairly target minorities.

"It's no more than a warning to allow these fellas to be more responsible. It is not just targeting African-American men. I see men of all races walking around with this same problem. It is just disingenuous, we should not have this. There ought to be a better way," he said.

Another Democrat, Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston, agreed that something needs to be done about pants now being worn below the knees.

If a female was to go around in the same fashion, pants down by their ankles or below the waist, we would see that as indecent exposure,” he told WCIV.

The bill has been referred to the state’s Judiciary Committee.

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