Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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October 10, 2008

Jail through pink colored glasses

Mary Kay might have been proud of the newly painted Gun Barrel City Jail.

The late Mary Kay Ash, founder of the Mary Kay Cosmetic Company, was known for rewarding top sales people with pink Cadillacs.

The guests coming into the Gun Barrel City Jail, can expect to be blindsided by the newly painted, all bright, bright, pink jail cells, and they don’t even have to sell anything to get one.

From its bars to its beds, inmates will see only pink during their stay — normally anywhere from a few hours to five days.

The pink jail idea originated a few years ago with controversial Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has billed himself as the “nation’s toughest sheriff.”

Most GBC inmates are eventually placed in Henderson County Jail. But if they’re arrested in Gun Barrel City, it may take county officials a few days to come pick them up, so they can be transported to the Athens facility.

“I hear it actually settles them down,” said Interim Police Chief Damon Boswell.

“It kind of gives you a pink moment,” said Detective Kaylan Rawlins.

Boswell said the county jail in Van Zandt County has also painted its cells pink, and claims it has had a calming effect, too — that it cuts down on violence.

So far, no inmates have been placed in the facility. But that could end as early as Friday, Boswell said.

The public is not invited, and officials indicated no cookies and punch would be served.

City Manager Gerry Boren has been an advocate for the new colors.

The idea is controversial. Arpaio and Maricopa County have has been successfully sewed on numerous occasions for millions of dollars, and Arpaio is a frequent target of the ACLU, Amnesty International, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona Chapter of the Anti Defamation League.

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