updated 10/6/2010 6:48:48 PM ET 2010-10-06T22:48:48

Bradley County jail officials have been outfitting new inmates with old underwear worn by other prisoners, a practice they said is safe because the clothing is thoroughly washed.

Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth talked about the policy during a discussion with county commissioners Tuesday.

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Sheriff's Department spokesman Bob Gault told The Associated Press on Wednesday the jail has a longtime practice of issuing everything incoming prisoners wear and said the clothing is sanitized.

The Tennessee Corrections Institute inspects jails, and assistant director Peggy Sawyer said reissuing underwear is allowed. She said her agency's rules also require that prisoner clothing be washed twice a week.

The Tennessee Department of Correction gives inmates new underwear. Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said "when an inmate leaves, his underwear leaves with him."

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