Women in the Law

Sheriff says staff was wrong to tell female lawyers to remove bras when visiting jail

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The sheriff in Portland, Maine, says jail workers were wrong to tell female lawyers must remove their bras if they want to enter the jail to meet with clients, the Associated Press reports.

At least two lawyers said they were told they’d have to go braless in the Cumberland County Jail because their undergarments set off the metal detector. They left instead.

Sheriff Kevin Joyce told reporters Monday it was not jail policy and won’t happen again. The Portland Press Herald reported that a jail administrator drafted a metal-detector policy after being hired last year on the heels of several security incidents, including inmates leaving maximum-security cells for sexual trysts.

“The policy is real clear: no weapons and contraband,” Joyce said. “It doesn’t say anything about underwire bras.”

One of those attorneys, Amy Fairfield, told the Portland Press Herald: “I appreciate that he recognizes that I shouldn’t have to take my clothes off to see my clients.”

The lawyers asked for an apology. The sheriff said he first needed to investigate the incident, which prompted Fairfield to say the law enforcement official “seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth” to placate both the attorneys and support staff.

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