Pre-trial detainees should not be forced to wear a uniform. Convicted detainees are required to wear uniforms in certain contexts, in accordance with local and national norms. To promote normalisation, facilitate rehabilitation and preserve individual identity, all categories of detainees should have the option to wear civilian clothes. When uniforms are imposed, they should be issued in sufficient quantity, be suitable for the climate, and never be humiliating or degrading in appearance.
The practice of equating uniform colours with particular types of crime or behaviour should be avoided (and if necessary replaced by another form of designation) because it reinforces the stigmatisation of certain categories of detainees. Uniforms must be available in all sizes, including for overweight or obese detainees.
Clothing should take into account the detainees’ cultural and religious identity so as to avoid discriminating against or stigmatising certain categories of the incarcerated population .
If detainees are allowed to wear their own clothes, arrangements should be made upon their admission to the institution to ensure that the clothes are clean and fit to wear. When required, the institution must provide the most vulnerable detainees with clothing adapted to the climate. The detainee should, as a minimum, receive underwear (briefs/panties and socks) in sufficient quantity upon admission to the institution.
Whatever the dress code system in place (uniforms or civilian clothes), clothes that are shabby or dirty, or that reflect demeaning connotations, weaken self-esteem, an essential element of rehabilitation.
Detainees who leave an institution for an authorised purpose such as a transfer must be allowed to wear their own clothes, or at least clothes that are inconspicuous. Detainees seeking early release or parole before a judge or a commission should also be able to dress in a dignified and appropriate manner in civilian clothes.
Detainees should not suffer from climatic conditions because their clothing is unsuitable or of insufficient quantity. Whenever necessary, the institution should make provision for warm and waterproof clothes to wear during time spent outdoors.
Detainees performing manual tasks in kitchens, workshops and maintenance areas must be issued working clothes in good condition. These should be washed frequently, even daily depending on the activity.