Can You Get Haircuts In Prison?

Can You Get Haircuts In Prison?

Just because you have been jailed does not mean you stay unkempt in unsanitary conditions. You can be punished by prison personnel for not maintaining personal hygiene, plus inmates may also punish you for being dirty. Getting a haircut is a massive part of self-hygiene, and normal people get a haircut at least twice a month.

So what about prison? Do they cut your hair in prison? Or are they left to grow their hair wild, shaggy and unkempt?

This question may appear easy but is quite a complex scenario. Different prison facilities have different rules regarding haircuts; however, the U.S correctional facility mandates all state-owned and federal owned facilities to provide inmates with proper hygiene and grooming.

This article will look at the possibility of an inmate getting a haircut while in prison and the different complexities surrounding the practice. Some of the topics the article we will cover is the standards associated with grooming in prison, whether or not prisons have barbershops, and whether inmates get to learn about being barbers through vocational training.

Let’s take a look

Can You Get Haircuts in Prison – Inmate Grooming Rules

It is worth noting that the federal government does not have any rules as to the height of an inmate’s hair. The policy is such that as long as the inmate keeps it tidy, the government has no problem with it. However, this has changed such that certain state facilities are changing the rules and mandating the shaving of inmates, as they believe inmates can hide contraband in the hair.

You have to be clean while in prison, lest you become the victim of punishment from either the security personnel or the inmates.

A dirty person with dirty hair may be a source of lice, which due to living in close quarters may pose a risk of an outbreak of lice and bed bugs, which may become a huge problem inside the jail.

In the U.S, an inmate has the right to a haircut at least once a month, and it is up to the government to ensure it is done, where applicable. However, if it is impossible to provide one monthly, an effort should be put to provide a haircut within reasonable time.

Although every facility has a right to their policies about haircuts, they have certain stipulations every inmate must adhere to, including:

  • Some states do allow inmates to have long hair as long as it is kept clean and neat.
  • For women inmates, the rule is that the hair should be made searchable, such that the inmate can be asked to bend over and run her hands through the hair to ensure no contraband is hidden under there.
  • The warden has the last say on hairstyles and may refuse or accept certain unique hairstyles dependent on whether it is seen as a security risk.
  • Braids and dreadlocks are allowed but are required to be half an inch at best.
  • Symbols created through hairstyles, or multiple missing hair parts and disproportionate long hair on one side may also be a problem and normally prohibited by most facilities.
  • In case an inmate has a hairstyle based on their religious beliefs, certain exceptions can be made for them.
  • In case the hairstyle creates a new or distorted image of the inmate, it is most likely that a new photo of the inmate will be taken to keep up with the new look.

Regardless of the rules and regulations, every prison facility has to provide inmates with haircuts, whether through a barber or provisions for shaving provided to inmates.

Prison Barber: Do Prisons Have Barbershops?

Most prisons will have a barbershop, or somewhere a barber comes to work from when they come to shave inmates. Federal prisons have their own rules on haircuts and barbershops, where the warden is required to provide health care and sanitation provisions. If possible, there should be a designated area for haircuts, and if not, an area can be set up. Equipment is supposed to be stored securely, and all haircuts should be within staff monitoring.

Most prisons will require inmates to make an appointment for a barber who will be provided within at least ninety days.

In the case of women inmates, they have access to basic hair services, including haircuts, color changes, and style. Either inmates or beautician who may be hired by the facility can do this.

Certain services at women’s prisons have to be paid for, including hair color and styling; however, haircuts are free. For color, an inmate may end up spending around $6, which is enough for short hair. You then have to schedule a hair appointment, which may take some weeks before you get one.

Some prisons have stricter rules on barbershops within the facility and mostly opt for barbers shaving the inmates with scissors inside their housing units, with security personnel present. They also may go to an all-purpose room, which is well monitored.

How Do Inmates Shave?

Incarceration is not only meant as a deterrent; rather, it is also meant to help rehabilitate the inmate. Part of this rehabilitation involves providing inmates with skills that can help them once they are out of prison.

Inmates have quite a problem with being hired once they are out of prison due to the stigma associated with inmates. People will associate an ex-inmate with criminality, making it hard to be hired, but if they come with some skill, they can change the narrative through productivity.

Due to the government mandate for inmates getting haircuts, it comes as an advantage for prisons, which have barber programs as they can have inmates to do the work. Interested inmates are grouped and taught by someone contracted by the facility.

The best thing about the barber program is that it provides constant barber services for inmates. In the last years, haircuts rates within prisons have risen to 20%.

Haircuts and hair styling are in demand both in and outside the prison facility. Most people visit a barber at least once a week, meaning haircuts are on demand. Moreover, hairstylists have launched hugely successful careers, meaning that inmates have the chance of coming from nothing to something.

Almost any inmate can register themselves for the barber program, of course, apart from the more violent criminals. You also have to be incarcerated for enough time to complete the program and to be eligible.

There are several skills offered at the barber-training program, including cutting hair for both men and women, styling, and dying. Tools for the job will be provided; however, they will only be used during the class after which they are securely stored.

After the inmate is released, there are groups of people and charitable services that help inmates start and secure jobs. If the inmate has acquired some skill while incarcerated, they are easier to place with an employer.

Barber programs have been seen to have some positive effect on society. Many in the program have been seen to maintain their lives outside of prison without any brushes with law enforcement.

It Is More Than a Haircut

On the outside, a haircut may be routine; however, for inmates inside the prison, a haircut means more than that. Not only is it their chance to look somewhat good, but for inmates who are isolated or thrown in the hole, it is the only time they see and interact with the outside after getting locked in a lonely dark room for days.

For inmates with a willingness to learn, the program is a chance at a good life, and a successful career. They can enhance their education after they are released or even start their businesses. Barber programs can act as the barrier that prevents an inmate from returning to prison as repeat offenders.


It is a common belief on the outside that inmates don’t have a choice on their hair, and are just shaven clean off, which is not true. They do have some choice in the matter, and get some options depending on the facility they are incarcerated in.

On the other hand, barber-training programs also provide an opportunity for business and sustenance for inmates. It also helps them keep away from bad influences that may land them back in prison.