About two weeks ago, a sergeant approached Mark Williams, a correctional officer at the California Institution for Men, in Chino, and told him he had to choose between his dreadlocks and his job. For 14 years Mark has supervised inmates—checked their mail, given them soap, watched them eat breakfast and work out in the Yard, driven them to radiation-treatment centers, and covered their vocation release. All the while, he kept his dreadlocks in a bun, to keep them above his collar.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation manual, “Female employees’ hair shall not extend below the bottom of the collar. If the hair is long, it shall be worn in a neat, non-flamboyant style.” But the bun rule only applies to female employees.