Comp-bra-mise: Jackson County to alter jail screening for those who wear underwire

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A compromise has been reached after Kansas City area defense attorneys complained that their underwire bras were setting off jail metal detectors, forcing them to remove their undergarments for screening if they wanted to meet with their clients face-to-face.

Attorneys who set off metal detectors at the Jackson County Jail now can opt for a secondary screening in which a guard uses a wand or pats them down, KCUR reported.

Female attorneys were outraged after the jail rolled out a new security protocol in May, with some of them carrying signs and protesting. Jail officials initially responded by offering to allow attorneys to have non-contact visits in which they talked to their clients by phones separated by glass without having to pass through metal detectors first. But the attorneys continued to push for change, saying such visits weren’t sufficient.

“All we ever wanted was to be able to meet with our clients the same way as men, and now we have been able to accomplish that,” said attorney Tracy Spradlin.

Spradlin commended the County Counselor's Office and the sheriff for their work in resolving the issue, and she said she was thankful they didn't have to bring a lawsuit against Jackson County. Spradlin said it was “no secret” that they would have gone that route.

“I’m thankful it didn’t come to that,” she said. “I think that would have been another waste of our time that we could have been meeting with clients and a waste of the county’s time for something that could be so easily resolved.”

Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté declined an interview with KCUR but said in a statement that the jail and the sheriff's office “are forward focused with no time to dwell on past issues.”

However, attorney Katherine Myers said the resolution doesn’t apply to jail employees. Myers represents Charlotte Hardin, a jail employee who worked for the county for 20 years. She was placed on indefinite leave after she removed her bra and sent it through the X-ray machine. Hardin has yet to return to work.

The new protocol for attorneys is still technically operating on a trial basis, but Spradlin said neither party has indicated any issues with the agreement.

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