U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Pink Jail

NCJ Number
Corrections Magazine Volume: 7 Issue: 3 Dated: (June 1981) Pages: 28-32
D Johnston
Date Published
5 pages
This article discusses the possible calming effects of pink jail cell walls on inmates and cites examples, and also notes research.
According to Alex Schauss, director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Wash., colors are capable of evoking specific emotional responses. The color of greatest significance to corrections is considered to be pink with a wavelength of 620 nanometers, which causes adolescents and children who have been screaming and yelling to calm down in 3 to 4 minutes; in 4 to 6 minutes, it will diminish mutilative or other violent physical activity; and in 6 to 8 minutes, it will make subjects passive. The color can be approximated by mixing one-fifth gallon semi-gloss white paint, four-fifths gallon flat white latex paint, and four ounces of red coloring. The director explains that looking at this specific pink causes human muscles to weaken. Quasi-scientific tests were conducted using a machine that measures an individual's arm strength. After a baseline amount of force was established, a card with the precise pink shade was held up before the subjects' faces. On subsequent trials their ability to exert force with their arms was greatly diminished. A card painted a specific shade of blue was then held up, and subjects immediately exerted maximum force -- usually equalling the force exerted the first time. It is suggested that inmates placed in pink cells be monitored closely since the color may agitate some individuals. Experiences with pink cells in a number of jails are described, and effects of other colors are briefly reviewed. Photographs are included, but references are not listed.