A Jackson County legislator has said the Jackson County Detention Center has a sexist screening policy that requires any woman wearing an underwire bra to remove the lingerie before entering the facility – a claim the sheriff and corrections department director dispute.
Jackson County legislator Crystal Williams raised the issue on Twitter Monday after female attorneys and others complained of discrimination when trying to enter the jail in downtown Kansas City. The checkpoint consists of an X-ray machine and metal detectors that are apparently triggered by the metal in underwire bras.
"I think we have to figure something out because people are going nuts," she noted.
Diana Turner, the Jackson County corrections department director, contended the security protocol implemented May 16 aims to prevent weapons and contraband from being smuggled into the facility.
Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté said misinformation has been spread about the screening process.
"Everyone is required to pass through a metal detector," he said. "No one has been asked to take off underwire bras."
But attorney Laurie Snell said that, along with her shoes and jewelry, she was expected to toss her bra into the bin at the security gate during a recent trip to the jail.
"I went in the bathroom, took it off and threw it in the bin. On the elevator on my way up to the see my client on the seventh floor, I wriggled back into it. Why should I have to do that?" she asks. "All the men have to do is take off their belts and shoes."
Legislator Tony Miller pondered whether different technology would help, such as using the whole-body screeners that are common at airports. At the minimum, some modifications should be made for attorneys who visit clients in the jail since all have passed criminal background inspections, he said.
For now, no change is intended, but legislators aren't likely to stop raising concerns.
"We need to come up with a better solution, because this is not good," said Jackson County chairwoman Theresa Galvin.