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Maine jail forces female attorneys to remove bras after setting off metal detectors

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Some female attorneys in Maine are outraged over a new policy at The Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Several defense attorneys have reported coming to the jail to speak with their clients recently, and being told to remove their underwire bras before entering the facility.

One attorney – who refused to remove her bra after setting off the metal detector – was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy and couldn’t go in to see her client, earlier this month.

It’s absolutely outrageous,’ Amy Fairfield told the Portland Press Herald. ‘He said: ‘Are you wearing an underwire bra? Might I suggest you go to the bathroom and take that off?’

Fairfield said, “It’s discriminatory, it’s harassing and it’s a constitutional issue.”

The new policy was reportedly put in place by jail administrator Major John Costello, who had previously worked at a Massachusetts jail, where an attorney snuck in a gun.

Sheriff Kevin Joyce told the Herald that it isn’t the jail’s policy to make women take off their bras. “We have a policy that everyone is put through the metal detector. There is no way for it to differentiate people with underwire bras and someone bringing in a gun.”

But a spokesperson for the company that manufactures the detector, said customers can consult with the company to “change a detector’s sensitivity.”  For security, a metal detector at a jail would be set to a “very high sensitivity,” but apparently it can still differentiate between smaller items, like underwiring, and larger pieces — including guns and knives.

After another attorney complained that she’d also been stopped from entering the jail because of her bra, Sheriff Joyce said he would be reviewing the metal detector policy.

The attorney, Gina Yamartino, said she had a conversation with Major Costello, who ‘didn’t back down at all’ and told her to ‘wear a different bra’.  ‘The things he was saying were unbelievable,’ she added, calling the policy ‘very sexist’.

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