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Controversial Saggy Pants PSA Gets Mixed Reaction in Western Mass

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 5.06.01 PMSPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) –The Black Mental Health Alliance of Massachusetts says it’s a behavioral health issue for young men to walk around with their pants sagging. Under state law it could be considered an offense punishable by a fine, even jail time. “This is a mental health issue. This is leading these kids to think that all their whole gang mentality; they should be gangster and all that craziness,” said Dr. Omar Reid, founder of the alliance. He says the message is specifically aimed at the black community in hopes that it will provoke a change. Dr. Reid is also ready to take the heat the video has already been getting. “I think it’s ridiculous, I think there’s other ways that we can go about empowering our youth and teaching them how to dress appropriately,” Qiana Johnson said.

The group released the PSA Thursday in an effort to discourage young people from sagging their pants, citing that you can get fined up to $300, even face up to 3 years behind bars for it.

The PSA cites MA General Law Section 272 Chapter 16, which states that a man or woman, married or unmarried, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 3 years, or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of more than $300.

A supervisor at the Holyoke Police Department told me he thinks arresting people for sagging their pants could be a stretch under that law, even though it could be considered a lewd act.

Of course this video has been getting a lot of mixed reaction, and at the W.E.B. Du Bois Academy in Springfield, it’s no different. “It’s kind of hurtful, stressful, because that’s how most of us black men in Springfield are portrayed, even though most of us don’t,” lamented 17 year-old Travis Russell. “It doesn’t make any sense that people sag their pants. It doesn’t make them look cool, it makes them look dumb,” 16 year-old Jahleel Gabriel stated. “I think it definitely points to the home and monitor how our children are dressed,” said Len Camano, a mentor at the academy.

The same supervisor with the Holyoke Police Department notes that while they do enforce the laws. He said he personally wouldn’t make that arrest, because it would also crowd the court system.

However, Dr. Reid noted that he has also been getting a lot of positive feedback from the PSA.


  • swelson

    I, too, could do without the sagging pants look. It’s stupid looking, obnoxious and causes the wearer to walk funny. But lewd and lascivious as defined by this law? Or gross and vile? I just don’t see it. I’ll stick with stupid and obnoxious, but as long as they aren’t doing anything worse, I’d pretty much leave it at that.

    Section 16. A man or woman, married or unmarried, who is guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars.

  • swelson

    Tanya – I’m pretty sure that’s an urban legend.

  • jjohnson48

    I Thank its disgusting how people think its cool to wear their plants wrapped rounds their knees. It is a lewd cat and they should be fined for public indecency.

  • swelson

    I’m pretty sure that it’s an urban legend perpetuated by your prison guard friends.

  • swelson

    It’s an urban legend perpetuated by your prison guard friends.

  • swelson

    “According to Greg Mathis, sagging was adopted from the United States prison system where belts are prohibited.” from the source Laura is citing. Has to do with beltlessness. Not “services”.

  • chance68

    I have to drive up State St. every weekday and the idiots wearing their pants way down are in droves it seems. An end to that idiotic habit would be to have the police arrest them and have the parents pay a $300 fine. That kid wouldn’t be wearing those saggy AZZ pants anymore.And if they continue to wear them down, continue to fine them. We need more money for illegal drug enforcement.

  • shawnm2

    @Tammy Trevino just because your a city bureacrat dosen’t mean your opinion matters more.Go back & fix Spfld housing problem. Worry about the decreped city housing & not someone’s underpants showing.

  • Samuel

    If there is a law, then it needs to be enforced for every instance. There should be no consideration for overcrowding the courts or jail cells. If you make a law and shove it through, then you need to back it up or leave the issue alone.
    These little punks need to be fined. Fine them until they can’t afford to buy the pants. A belt is a cheap alternative. They’ll be part of the society that determines these rules soon and they need to learn lessons like how to be considerate and respectful. Just because you feel it’s a freedom of expression doesn’t mean that it is alright to do in public.
    Assert your right to be different at home, with the curtains tightly pulled closed. We don’t want to see it.

  • alpinequeen

    Back in the 60′s at Longmeadow High School, boy’s hair could not touch the backs of their collars. Pipe stem pants were also outlawed. A hall monitor could make a boy suspected of wearing pipe stem pants remove their pants over their shoes. If the legs were too tight to pull over the shoes, they got “written up”. Sneakers could not be worn in the classrooms, only in the gym.

  • FuKdRepUBLicAnZ

    @neal. That is the most intelligent way of putting it. : )

  • Samuel

    The reality is that their behavior and disgusting underwear is affecting others. Parents need to teach kids how to live in a society in which we all contribute. It’s not all “about me”.
    I, too, feel that there are far too many rules. But if there is a rule then it needs to be used or taken from the books. Kids should be fined for showing their underwear and unless you’re four years old…it’s not appropriate to wear pajamas out in public either.
    Grow up…learn that to be considerate of others shows maturity. Tolerance is considering how others feel, sometimes ahead of your own thoughts.
    And yes, this clothing style should have died out in the 90′s. Some people didn’t get the message. Some people are still wearing big hair, too.

  • FuKdRepUBLicAnZ

    U talking about tolerance. SO TOLERATE IT. ! HYPOCRITE

  • The truth

    Yeah make them wear skinny jeans instead.

  • JACQUI

    IF THE YOUNG KIDS AND THE STUPID ONLY MEN DON’T WANT TO PULL THEIR PANTS UP.. THEN GO AHEAD AND FIND THEM.. 1TH TIME $300.00.. 2ND TIME $500.00.. THIRD TIME $1000.00.. IF THEY DON’T PAY.. THEN THEY HAVE TO DO WORK DETAIL.. EX; CLEANING SOMEONES YARD.. KEEPN OUR MAIN STREET CLEAN.. SHOVELING SNOW FOR THE ELDERLY… ETC.. IN MY HOME TOWN IN LOUISIANA .. IT’S ALREADY AGAINST THE LAW PERIOD.. THEY CALL IT INDECENT DISREPECT FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS.. AND ALSO WHAT A WAY FOR THE CITY TO MAKE MONEY…. FIND THEM ALL …GIRLS TOO..