Mental-health group warns black teens they face prison time for wearing saggy pants; in fact, they don't

The Black Mental Health Alliance of Massachusetts is trying to scare black teens straight with a new ad campaign that warns they face prison time for wearing boxer-showing jeans.

The Atlantic reports the group hopes to extend the campaign to billboards. Maybe they can replace those "Murder is not OK" ads, now that all other pressing issues facing the black community have been solved, except for the scourge of saggy jeans.

The law the group sites, Chapter 272, sec. 16 of the Mass. General Laws, sets out a penalty for "open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior," and is the statute used to prosecute T masturbators and public urinators. It fails to mention anything about saggy jeans. Chap. 272 in general relates to "crimes against chastity, morality, decency and good order."

A reading of the instructions given to jurors in open-and-gross cases suggests the group is talking through its hat: Not only does a jury have to find that a person exposed his or her genitals, buttocks or breasts (the latter if the person is female) but that the person did so with the intent to "produce alarm or shock" among bystanders.

A spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's office confirms his office has not prosecuted anybody for wearing jeans below their hips, and has no plans to:

We'll leave those cases to Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police.

H/t Jason Mihalko.



    Free tagging: 


      Is that even a real cop?

      By on

      Everyone else is going to hit this thing on so many other fronts, that I thought I'd take a different tack -

      Is that even a real Massachusetts police officer? I've never seen a MA police shield that looks anything like that. We need some authority - where's Pete Nice?

      By the way, c. 272 of the General Laws has some of our greatest hits - tramps, vagabonds, houses of ill-fame - it's an encyclopedia of ne'er-do-wellness!

      One could

      By on

      Only dream

      A dream deferred

      What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore--
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over--
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

      (after all these years we finally have the answer: it sags like a heavy load)


      Just call them "assault pants" and announce that they must be banned while surrounded by adorable little children. It's for the children!

      Nobody needs droopy pants anyway.


      By on

      While I do find the trend of sagging extremely gross, especially when I can see sweat + skidmarks, I don't think this ad will do anything.

      Did those billboards showing the blunts and what you could buy in lieu of them work? What always made me laugh about those, was it seemed they actually thought people smoked them with the tobacco still in them and not your favorite kush.

      I've never heard any explanation

      By on

      as to why a boy or young man would want to walk around with his underwear and ass hanging out. Do girls/women dig this look? Do gay guys? And the way you're forced to walk with the now slim/tight fitting low rise jeans/pants riding well below your waist is beyond ridiculous.

      The power of advertising and manipulation of people is an amazing thing. If it was done right, they could get many people to walk off a cliff to their death.

      Simple Answer

      By on

      It gets old guys and self-appointed wardrobe, dress code, and fashion police VERY WORKED UP OVER THE TRANSGRESSION!

      If all the ninnies just saved their breath, the "fad" would vanish rapidly because it is stupid.

      Have to say it is damn funny when the saggers wear long johns in the cold under the boxers and droopies. Or when grown ass white men wannna play.

      I'm not old...yet

      By on

      ...You're wrong,actually. It's an example of the power of peer pressure,advertising and a need to mimic what famous or infamous people wear,behave, talk, and so-on. There's NOTHING 'radical' about sagging pants, skinny pants, etc., They're just fashion TRENDS that big corporations have created and marketed, especially to young people, but adults are also of course heavily marketed to in their own right. In due course the TREND will change direction dramatically forcing trend FOLLOWERS to dish out a lot of $ to the big corporations who design, manufacture and market the trend to the trend setters.

      I grew up in NYC and Boston [Allston/Brighton, Somerville] and am no stranger to seeing and wearing 'urban' fashion, I was never a frat boy bro. That said, of everything fashion TREND I've witnessed so far in my life, sagging pants down to your thighs so your underwear and ass are hanging out and you walk like you just took a dump in your draws is by far the goofiest.

      Another thing about this fashion trend and others like skinny pants,shirts,etc., is they also seem to be aimed at making young adults look like little kids, which from a psychological standpoint I find interesting.

      I feel the same way.

      I was a teenager during the times where teens were starging to "peg" their pants at the leg. I always thought this looked so stupid beyound belief, and never did it. I avoided wearing jeans, just so people wouldn't comment on it as well.

      Sagging pants has been going around since about the late 1980s. To me it is still a sign of the lazy, rebellious crowd who will reamain unemployed until they get a grasp on what looks "acceptbale".

      That Was Bad on Multiple Levels

      I'm one of the school who are does find sagging pants look dumb, but this was just terrible.

      That argument was unconstitutional and it was cheesy as possible. And yes officer, acts of defiance have a tenancy to look cool. Now that sagging pants can be look like an act of defiance, it only adds a moral rebellion dimension instead of a discussion of bad fashion.

      If you want to kill off sagging pants, try to find a way to see it as bad fashion.

      Jerry Lewis

      By on

      Perhaps if someone who acted like Jerry Lewis and was popular had the saggy pants might slow down the popularity of the pans.

      can anyone explain

      what the reason for wearing your pants half-mast is anyway?

      difficult to walk, can't run, have to use one hand to hold them up half the time... what's the point?

      See also:

      -High-heeled shoes
      -Tight jeans
      -Shaggy haircuts - I mean, how do these zany cuckoo mop tops see where they're going?!

      The answer to all of these and more is that fashion and function are two different things.

      No clue, but ...

      By on

      I also don't get the trend of not removing all the labels from new baseball hats, either.

      But, eh, if somebody wants to dress like that, how does it really affect me? It doesn't except when I'm at Forest Hills and marvel how some of these guys manage to get up the stairs.

      It's not like teens dressing in ways that piss off their tut-tutting elders is something new. The good Dr. Reid should really find more pressing issues to focus on.

      The flat bill new era hat sticker thing

      By on

      is simply a form of bling. EVERYTHING about 'hood' fashion, and by extension hip-hop fashion, revolves around showing off/attracting attention.

      And in answer to what another poster said about fashion: I understand the concept of's generally used among especially young adults to make themselves more attractive to potential mates, in addition to of course peer pressure and advertising. But there are many fashionable things that are really uncomfortable and silly. I'm not even talking about just the sag thing,either. I see the majority of people, especially young adults, male and female, wearing what I know for a fact to be uncomfortable shoes and dress boots [with the de rigueur tight pants and dark color slim fitting wool blend pea coat] all the time, even when it's very cold, snowy, icy,rainy, which I find personally amusing, although of course it's their business. It's the fashion. But wearing the type of shoes that so many so-called hipsters love to wear are going to really fuck up your feet in addition to being a bitch in a place like Boston with all the brick sidewalks and inclement weather. Same with the ladies and their often bizarre shoe choices, especially heels or the really flat uggs and sandles/flip flops.

      And I often wonder where do guys who wear the now popular really tight jeans and pants put their shit? Don't they carry stuff in their pockets? Where do they put their phones? I can see dressing like this going out to a club, but otherwise I'll stick to normal jeans, dickies/khakis,cargo pants [the greatest invention since the p&j sandwich IMO].

      Saggy pants are/were a prison

      By on

      Saggy pants are/were a prison fashion. The popular conception is that it is, ironically, a gay prisoner's signal to invite certain...activities, though according to Snopes, it just is what it is. Regardless, prison couture is "gangsta," which is the aesthetic core of the thug lyfe demographic.

      adamg, the non-disturbance of hat stickers is a way to show that the hat is the genuine article rather than a knockoff. It speaks to the wearer's ability to afford nice licensed paraphernalia. Same reason why the big, expensive, flashy vehicles like the Hummer H2 (among others) are popular with that demographic - they're status symbols.

      Supposedly it started in prison

      I've repeatedly heard that it started in prison, where prisoners were prohibited from having belts and were issued ill-fitting clothing, either for economic reasons or as a "badge of shame", and that ex-inmates continued to wear their pants in this style on the outside after being released. Others subsequently started imitating them, including many who had never even been near a prison.

      Others claim that the story that sagging pants originated among prisoners is racist, pointing out that prison uniforms tend to be the one-piece orange jumpsuits we see on TV, and that two-piece uniforms have elastic in the pants waistband to help hold them up.

      I'm not sure whom to believe. Snopes, in debunking the urban legend that sagging your pants signaled one's sexual availability to other prisoners, does claim that the prison-origin story itself is true even if the sexual connotations are not.

      missing the point

      By on

      It seems to me like the group is warning black teens that the law is being (ab)used against them in some capacity (for example, as an excuse to stop them)...not to wag their fingers.

      That's not what he said

      By on

      How police interact with black teens is certainly a valid issue even 20 years after the Stuart case, but that's not what's getting Reid all hot and bothered:

      Dr. Omar Reid, President and Founder of BMHAM says the the video's purpose is to address the growing issue of young men walking in the streets of our communities without regard and respect for themselves and thier community. "For the BMHAM it's a behavioral health issue in our neighborhoods and communities that must be addressed the entire community." says Dr. Reid.

      "This is just the beginning of our public strategy to encourage parents, schools, police, social service agencies, housing agencies, faith based organizations along with men and women in our community to take a collective stand and tell our young men and boys to pull those pants up," said Reid.

      One word to describe this: STUPID!

      By on

      One word to describe this: STUPID! As if we dont have enough racial profiling and youth getting locked up for soft drugs, these idiots want to increase the prison population over something that harms NO ONE. So what you dont like a fashion trend, these guys are not exposing themselves. If thats the case lets ban women from wearing bikinis on the beach! Lets ban ballet dancers from wearing those pants that CLEARLY show their private parts and buttocks! I'm sure the racist people in this city would love to see this ban on saggy pants become a reality...smdh

      Jesus H. Christ

      By on

      stop trolling or get that chip off your shoulder. If you're looking for love and being the center of attention every time you step out into the world, you came to the wrong city/state.

      You sound like you're either spoiled or didn't get enough hugs as a child.

      You're just mad because I

      By on

      You're just mad because I have a valid opinion people might agree with. Now stop being ignorant with the name calling and insults, and stop following me on this blog. Loser

      So then we'll

      By on

      have lots of young males running around in their underwear instead?

      Faced with this option, I think I'd rather stick with the baggy pants (as idiotic a fashion trend as I personally find it).

      Now before anyone responds, be aware that my sarcasam meter is operating perfectly fine today (as demonstrated in my response).

      While the Fashion Police are at it...

      By on

      ...can they do something about those suburban women in yoga pants? Talk about revealing...They banned girls from wearing them in our high school. Now if the girls could only get their moms to dress appropriately.

      baggy pants

      By on

      i spent a lot of time hanging around downtown crossing and the surrounding area as a kid. i always thought that some of the kids wore very baggy loose pants and clothing as a shoplifting getaway plan. on more than one occasion i saw kids run down into park st station while being chased by security guards, blend into the crowd, and emerge wearing different pants and or jacket/coats. instantly changing the description of a guy wearing jeans and a black jacket into a guy wearing green sweatpants and a blue hoodie. most of the people that saw anything just kept quiet and did not get involved. my best friend used to realy enjoy getting involved and tackled more than a few shoplifters and held them until the cops arrived, but he was crazy. most people would not risk being stabbed over something stolen from filenes.

      a lot of cops i know say a lot of gang members wear the baggy layered clothing to conceal guns and or drugs.

      93 Bus

      I used to ride the 93 Bus from Sullivan to the Navy Yard. In the morning, certain runs would be packed with Charlestown High students.

      As the bus approached the school, boys would be pulling their pants up and belting them at the waist. Girls from conservative cultures would be helping each other with quick make-up and hair styling (some pulling off head scarves) and would unbutton their shirts a button or so - never too far, but not buttoned up to the neck like their families probably insisted.

      The reverse would occur if I ever had reason to head back in the mid-afternoon.

      Sagging isn't limited to blacks or teens, though. I nearly fell off my bike once coming down Medford street as this dad who had to be about 30 years old lost his pants while strapping his kids into car seats. Um, dude? Newton just told you that you're way too old for that look.

      And the hoodie or big cap

      By on

      is designed for concealment of your face from enemies.

      Yes, baggy/loose clothes, multi-layered, jackets/pants with multiple pockets is perfect for concealment of contraband/weapon[s] and boosting/shoplifting. And like you pointed out, you can quickly change your appearance by stripping off a layer of clothing.

      It's also true the loose/baggy look is based to a degree on prison culture where inmates can receive clothes that don't fit, usually too big...and big hood families where clothes are passed down from older to younger brother and they're usually too big.

      How are people not outraged

      By on

      How are people not outraged by this? It is not okay to use untrue fear tactics to coerce people into changing their behavior. Particularly if that behavior doesn't hurt anyone. We may have opinions on the way it looks and perhaps it "offends" are sensibilities, but get over it. At one point a woman wearing pants was offensive. It seems that rather than focusing on things that matter (self esteem, education, healthy relationships) the BMHA is focusing on a ridiculous fashion and lying about potential consequences. Since when is lying to people helpful to their mental health?


      By on

      white folk can have their no pants subway ride and a Christmas stroll in speedos through downtown and black children are going to be arrested for saggy pants. No wonder Deniro is coming to Boston to make a neo nazi movie.
      On second thought is the Black Mental Health Aliiance funded with our tax money?

      Oh puhleeze

      By on

      *Troll Alert*

      This stupid 'issue' is discussed and fought over all over the U.S., including the 'Black Community'. They've tried to ban them outright, including initiatives by black politicians, down south.

      We're just talking here, anyway. No one wants to ban you from walking around like a lil' kid with too big or too tight pants, sagging half way down your ass so you can show off your designer draws to anybody who actually gives a flying phuk.