I want to allow one of the prisons in VR to allow only sarong and undershirts as nightwear. What reasons could one provide?

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    $\begingroup$ Prisons can have very restrictive rules which sometimes defy common sense. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 16 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ If it's in VR, why would it matter what kind of clothing they provide? It could just a default setting in VRPrison.exe. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Jul 16 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ I say @Alexander nailed it. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 16 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ One reasoning could be :. It's a poor country prison like Bangladesh. And of mix including both young men and older. So everyone should hv some night dress code to avoid discrimination. Of course it would be most difficult for young men to sleep in lungi as most of them might be used to pajamas. $\endgroup$ – Sikh and ye shall find Jul 16 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ I assumed that VR means virtual reality. Was this mistaken? $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 16 at 18:49

The same and only reason prisons ever have for placing restrictions on anyone or anything: because they're totalitarian institutes that literally exist to make life miserable for the inmates. Having tried to sleep in a sarong on a couple of occasions I can attest that this certainly would make a lot of people miserable.

  • $\begingroup$ Lungi or Indian sarong has ends stitched together. So it's more like a tube rather than an open sheet. And that along with a vest is ideal nightwear for old generation Indian men $\endgroup$ – Sikh and ye shall find Jul 16 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Sikhandyeshallfind Yeah I've never tried to sleep in one of those, that might be easier to deal with than the sheet wrap sarong, those are a nightmare. If a prison was going to use a sarong it'd have to be the sheet. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 16 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ Then again, some folks find the sarong (and its various worldwide relatives) to be quite comfy indeed! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jul 16 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ They may make their lives miserable, but that is not why they ‘literally exist’ $\endgroup$ – Sebastiaan van den Broek Jul 17 at 10:06
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    $\begingroup$ @SebastiaanvandenBroek That heavily depends on what country you live in and what era you're talking about. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 17 at 11:07

According to modern theories, prison sentences (and other punishments by the criminal justice system) serve multiple functions:

  • The prisoner is prevented from crimes against the general public while imprisoned. He or she can only offend against other prisoners or prison staff.
  • Under coercion, the prisoner is taught lessons for a crime-free life which he or she might have avoided in freedom -- drug therapy, school and vocational training, living a structured life.
  • The prisoner is deterred from repeat crimes when he or she experiences the consequences of being caught.
  • Members of the public other than the sentenced criminal are deterred from crime when they see the consequences of being caught.
  • Victims and members of the general public feel satisfaction at witnessing punishment, and their moral standards are reinforced.

Nations differ in the emphasis on different functions of prison sentences. Some hardly try to rehabilitate the prisoner. Others see this as the key role of the criminal justice system. Some make conditions as harsh as possible to reinforce the deterrence effect, others do so as punishment.

I assume that the clothing is no ordinary nightgown for males in the culture your describe. If that were the case, the prison system might simply give everyone the standard and leave it at that.

  • The clothing could be part of a suicide watch protocol. Anti-suicide smocks are not quite sarongs but something close to it.
  • It could be deliberate humiliation to enhance the deterrence function.
  • It could be deliberate humiliation to enhance the punishment.
  • $\begingroup$ The question is about a virtual reality prison, so suicide prevention measures should not be necessary. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Jul 17 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ Do sarongs as uniform help reduce chances of suicide ? Even in real world ? $\endgroup$ – Sikh and ye shall find Jul 17 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Sikhandyeshallfind, make a google picture search for "anti-suicide smocks," Calling them something like a sarong is very much a stretch. Normal sarongs are something different, but someone who does not know the technical name might perhaps call the smocks sarong by mistake. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 17 at 16:23

In a VR world... you could make them dress up like the little mermaid and it would not matter. VR aesthetics as are just that, and there is no practical purpose to how you skin your inmates other than making them look how you want them to look. They can't conceal knife better because they are wearing loose clothes, they can't be slowed down just because you render them with a ball and chain. Etc. That is unless you add stat modifiers to the attire.

In the real world; however, there are some distinct advantages to this attire:

Ever heard the term "gird your loins"? In the ancient world, where men routinely wore sarong like garments, it was inhibiting to get into a fight or do hard labor while freeballing in their togas; so, before getting-to-work, they would have to tie their toga between their legs so it would not get caught on things or get pulled over their heads. This was both practical for what they were about to do, but also a visual cue to others that you are not just hanging out.

In a prison setting, inmates would quickly learn the advantages of girding up for a fight. But, seeing an inmate with his loins girded would be an immediate cue to the guards and other inmates that things are about to go sideways.

This gives the guards the opportunity to intervene before things get out of hand.

So, going back to the VR question, you could give a sarong the option to be worn either in normal mode or girded mode. In the normal mode, it gives the wairer penalties against certain physical actions, but in the girded mode, the prison guards' AI will make them stick closer to you and have perception bonuses against anything suspicious you may be doing.

  • $\begingroup$ So you're suggesting sarong for makes even in real life prison would help reduce violence ? What about younger men who don't like to wear such nightwear $\endgroup$ – Sikh and ye shall find Jul 17 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ I'd skip the nightwear and just make it a standard prison uniform. Young men are if anything easier to nude-shame than older men; so, given no other options, they would wear them. Especially in an environment where getting molested for walking around without any bottoms on is a reasonable concern. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jul 17 at 17:40

Clothes are an important part of self-image. Putting people into standardized uniforms dehumanizes people, suppresses their personality and creates a group mentality with people wearing the same uniform. This is desirable in a prison, which is why most prisons in the world force inmates to wear standardized uniforms.

But why would this particular prison choose shirts and sarongs for their uniform?

Why shouldn't it? All that matters about a uniform is that they all look the same. A secondary concern is functionality, but we are talking about a VR prison, so that aspect is irrelevant. So the uniform design choice is more or less an aesthetical one. Maybe the designer of the VR prison was from a culture where this attire is common? Or maybe the prison is made specifically for people from a culture where this attire is not common? In that case forcing men to wear what looks more like what a woman would wear in their cultural background might be a way to further humiliate the prisoners.


There are several important aspects to clothing a prison would hand out. It's not necessary for prison clothing to be all these things, but most of them is a plus.

  1. Inexpensive.
  2. Reasonably durable (no buttons, zippers, or places easy to tear; needs to go through the wash with ease).
  3. As few different versions as possible (you want to avoid clothing where you must supply 20 different sizes; 2-3 main sizes and a couple of outliers would be ideal).
  4. Can not be used as a weapon (belts, for example) or to conceal weapons.
  5. Does not interfere with any prison activity (handcuffs, anklecuffs if used, prison work details).
  6. Bonus: Should make a person quickly identifiable as a prisoner (this is often done with otherwise ordinary clothing with an unusual color or pattern).

Plain undershirts are excellent contenders. They are comfortable, easy to make in unusual colors and patterns, cheap, light, easy to throw in commercial washing machines, or wash and dry by hand if that's the local culture, and each person can get away with wearing a few different sizes (so you just need small, medium, and large to fit most of the population).

Sarongs also fit the criteria. You only have to have 2-3 different sizes to fit most men, they don't need buttons or zippers to stay on, and so forth.

If a sarong is part of the local clothing culture, then it would fit in, even if many youth would be turned off by it. If the local culture is one that would never use a sarong, it could have a humiliation factor (it's a skirt!) or it could be an excellent way to keep nighttime escapes down, as prisoners would be easily identified as such.

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    $\begingroup$ Except you missed the whole point of it being a VR prison and none of these matter. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Jul 17 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Thorne It's fiction. Real world stuff doesn't ever matter in fiction because there's nothing real about it. But we as creators/authors still care about reality and choose to let it inform our choices to varying degrees. VR is just a different medium for fiction. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 17 at 1:40
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    $\begingroup$ It's fiction about prisoners in a VR world. Cost, durability, sizes doesn't matter in a program fiction or no fiction. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Jul 17 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Thorne According to the OP, it's basically a Sims world. Those factors do matter there. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 17 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ Plus even if sarong was part of local culture but preferred by older men, then younger men having to wear it would be also a humiliation factor. $\endgroup$ – Sikh and ye shall find Jul 17 at 3:59

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