By Elaine Rackley
Many young people call it "swag," but wearing sagging pants on the streets of one Henry County city is now "disorderly conduct." And it is against the law.
Violators could end up paying from $50, to $200, depending of the number of infractions. The new ordinance was signed into law by Mayor R. W. Corley, and became effective Friday, July 22.
"After receiving a lot of complaints from citizens in several different areas of Hampton, complaining about young men wearing the pants inappropriately below their buttocks, I felt we needed to do something about this conduct," said Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter.
He said the complaints specifically focus on young men exposing their underwear in public.
Porter took his concerns to the mayor and city council, and won support for an new ordinance. According to Porter, the cities of Cordele, Albany, and Dublin -- all in Georgia -- have similar ordinances making it illegal to wear ill-fitted, sagging clothing in public.
The new law is part of the city's disorderly conduct statute, and reads: "A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when such person, within the corporate limits of the City, commits any of the following: (26) Appears in a public place, or in view of the public, wearing pants, shorts, or a skirt more than three (3) inches below the hips ... exposing the skin, undergarments, or underwear ... the term "underwear" shall include any article of clothing worn under the outer garments next to the skin. At the discretion of the officer, any person violating this subsection may be warned to pull up their pants, and if they comply, said warning shall be the only penalty ..."
The measure was prepared by Hampton City Attorney Scott Mayfield.
The punishment for the first violation of the new law is $50; for the second violation, it is $100, and for the third, $200, said Porter. "They can come to court and fight it, [but] if they are wearing sagging pants around here, it's going to cost them," he said. "People don't want to see that.
"Technically, any offense can incur jail time, but we very seldom impose jail time in our court. I would be surprised if this offense ever warranted jail time," added Porter.