Though no federal law mandates the practice, there are a few practical reasons people have their heads shaved behind bars in some legal systems. In close-quarter prison settings, shaved heads help prevent the spread of lice and cut down on other hygiene issues, The Virginian-Pilot writes. Illicit items like drugs and weapons can also be hidden in long hair and beards, and a distinctive hairstyle or facial hair can provide an easy means for imprisoned people to change their appearance should they escape.
Speaking with NBC News, New York State Corrections Department head Harold Clarke said in 2011, “We’re not doing it just because we can. It’s been done because it raises some security issues and concerns.” At Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center, once his head was shaved, convicted double-murderer Alex Murdaugh would also undergo medical and psychological testing among types of assessment.
Trial lawyer Robert Rikard wrote in a tweet that Murdaugh was assigned to the maximum-security South Carolina Department of Corrections facility, “because [Murdaugh’s] convicted of a violent crime, he will go to a facility that only houses the violent criminals. The worst of the worst,” Rikard’s tweet read.
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