I was surprised by this item in the news: Most Japanese prisoners do not like their pajamas. I can appreciate that. I’m not a pajama guy. But what startled me was that prisoners in the Land of the Rising Sun actually own pajamas.
Japan conducted a survey. Not too startling a revelation, 70 percent of their federal inmates said their cells were too cramped. The hotel rooms in Tokyo are the size of a microwave oven. What can the jail cells be like?
There are about 127 million people in Japan and 81,300 of them are in the pokey. A recent United Nations study found that the prisons there are overcrowded, the medical care is poor and not only are the meals bad, but they’re served too early at a senior citizen-ish 5 p.m.
The capper however is the pajama issue. Of the convicts surveyed, about 50 percent didn’t like the color (gray) of their vertically striped pajamas while 44 percent just plain didn’t like the design.
If you’re into math like I am, does that mean that 56 percent of the prisoners liked their jammies?
What does someone in the Yakuza prefer for their sleeping attire? Dice patterns? Smoking guns? Knives? Bank vaults with cartoon holes in the wall?
“Because prisons are a closed society, there are great human rights violations going on,” said Makoto Teranka, secretary general of Amnesty International Japan. “It’s necessary to take drastic measures based on human rights to change the conditions in prisons.”
Just makes you want to take to the streets and chant, “Attica! Attica! Pajama Rights for Prisoners!”
As one of history’s most completely useless organizations, perhaps the United Nations can spend a few billion and appoint a blue ribbon panel to find the perfect Japanese jammy for the discerning blight on society.
Obviously, the first fashion question to address is: Feet or no feet?
I’m probably the wrong guy to ask. I don’t like pajamas. In fact, I have a rather high thermometer and control issues so I sleep usually either standing up fully dressed or outside, in the oak tree above my bedroom.
But, if I were to design a pajama for Japanese prisoners, it being prison and prison is for punishment, I’d have feet in the pajamas but I’d make the little stockings four sizes too small per inmate. I’d also stitch in a little hoody with bear cub ears because I’m an arch-conservative who not only believes the prison experience for someone who would steal the Japanese version of an 8-track should not only be painful, but humiliating as well.
For the official Japanese pajama ensemble, I’d also insert one of those flap entrances for the bottoms. But I’d have four button holes and 12 buttons. Big, thick buttons so the convicts would have to sleep on their tummies. That would drive the felons nuts after a few weeks. Of course, you could still maintain the annoyance factor by distributing hospital gowns for the inmates. Forget just sleeping attire. Nothing like wearing one of those open-in-the-back flimsy polyester emergency room numbers to lower criminal self-esteem and cut down aggression.
And, for the worst offenders, I’d have them handcuffed to portable oxygen tanks that pump gaseous saltpeter into their lungs.
Want to cut down prison machismo?
Administer Little Mermaid night shifts. Who feels like starting a riot in cell block #17 when you’re wearing Ariel’s smiling countenance?
I’m sure that the United Nations probably wouldn’t like my ideas. For one thing, they’d work.
This may be me, but is this just a tempest in a green tea cup? Of all the issues facing penal reform, why are pajamas atop the list? I mean, are they expecting Hef to drop over for a late-night party on Death Row?
Knowing the UN, I’m confident that after 15 years of studying the issue, they’ll recommend a lighter shade of gray with the stripes switched from horizontal to vertical. (Probably some of the inmates complained the former made them look fat.)
And, from a human rights point of view, the next obvious task is to add red velvet smoking jackets to the convicts’ evening wardrobe.
(SCV author John Boston also writes The Time Ranger & SCV History for your SCV Beacon. He’s has earned more than 100 major awards for writing, including being named, several times, America’s best humor, and, best serious columnist. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website, America’s Humorist — thejohnbostonchronicles.com. )