Magazine article Corrections Forum

Suit Yourself

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Suit Yourself

Article excerpt

New advances in uniform properties and technologies have brought a host of products to the corrections industry in the past few years. Gone are days of stiff polyester trousers and shirts. The fabrics that make up uniforms specifically for the corrections industry today have moisture-wicking abilities, better dyeing to keep colors from fading and clinical-grade anti-microbial fibers, just to name a few.

And manufacturers also deal with keeping prices affordable. On developing products with innovative technology, Steve Gilkeson, vice president, Perfection Uniforms, explains, "We're saving budget money by making products that last longer."

Germ Stopper

What's needed is to protect corrections officers, who regularly come in contact with inmates' bodily fluids. A new fiber, developed by Noble Biomaterials Inc., Scranton, Penn., protects against fluids infected with viruses and diseases. Known as X-Static, the fiber is made with a layer of 99.9% pure silver that is permanently bonded to the surface of a textile fiber, such as a filament or spun yarn an incorporated into knits, wovens and non-wovens for uniforms and other gear. On how it works, the official company statement reads: "The electron release of silver molecules works on an intra-cellular level-actually disrupting the DNA and RNA building block make-up of any micro-organism that lands on a product's surface." In other words, the pure silver offers clinical-grade anti-microbial inhibiting the growth of bacteria. "The enemy isn't always the inmate across from you," stresses Shawn Connor, GM of government affairs. "Sometimes the bacteria on his hands are the enemies you can't see."

The X-Static fibers are built to last for the life of the garment and the silver bound to the fibers will not wash or wear off. X-Static does not make the finished garment, but the technology inside it. Incorporating silver into a garment's fibers will naturally regulate temperature and minimize static electricity, a benefit particularly if a CO is working near computers or ammunition. "And some things we do are not measured by scientific measures," Connor adds, "particularly like odor control." Silver naturally binds and neutralizes odors and doesn't allow odor to become part of the synthetic.

Connor further explains that silver does not naturally wick away moisture, but X-Static fibers can be combined with other fibers that wick away moisture to create garments for this industry. In addition to uniforms, X-Static fibers are used in garments and gear including base layers, undergarments, socks, boots and helmet liners.

Easy Movement

Perfection Uniforms based in Brentwood, Tenn., has redefined the construction of uniforms for the corrections industry. Their new Perfection EGC (Ergonomie Garment Construction) System was designed to add more comfort and mobility to their uniforms; the Matrix Series is the most purchased line for corrections, but it was borrowed from other industries. Explains Gilkeson: "...We looked at the outdoor and sports apparel industries, borrowed success stories, and adapted them to corrections."

When re-engineering both men and ladies' garments, more benefits were built in-hidden zippers, durable melamine buttons and permanent creases, to name a few. For shirts, gussets in the armpits were added, as the typical seam can be limiting. "More mobility and less constriction was our goal," he adds. "Even one second of constriction for a corrections officer is too much." Another gusset was added in the crotch of the trousers. This one-piece diamond shaped gusset provides multi-directional stretch and lessens the likelihood of splitting a seam. And in the breathable waistbands, heavy- duty hidden elastic will expand two to four inches as necessary, yet will still be comfortable if an officer is also wearing a duty belt. "We want corrections officers to be comfortable in their uniforms, so they need a garment that responds to their body," Gilkeson details. …

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