KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dozens of attorneys and supporters took to the streets of downtown Kansas City on Wednesday to protest recent changes to security screenings at the Jackson County Detention Center.
Female attorneys have been protesting the change after some said they’ve been denied access after their underwire bras, or even metal hip and knee implants, have set off the alarm.
It also comes after Sheriff Darryl Forte sent a string of messages on Twitter, insisting he was standing his ground to keep jail employees, inmates and visitors safe.
But the new protests and a special legislative meeting may now spark change.
“This policy is discriminatory against women and infringes on our clients’ Constitutional access to counsel,” attorney Tracy Spradlin said.
The attorneys have wanted a meeting with Forte and jail director Diana Turner. But when that didn’t happen, they took to the streets to make their concerns heard — loud and clear.
“This is not a normal policy. I represented death penalty clients for three years of my career. And guess what? I did it with an underwire bra on. I was not told I had to take off my bra, and these are the people supposedly the most dangerous in Missouri,” another attorney said.
The Jackson County Legislature wanted to hear those concerns on the record. Attorneys, the sheriff and jail director all spoke to a packed public meeting Wednesday.
“This is about taking care of my team. I appreciate that it’s frustrating for folks. A lot of people have had to adapt,” Turner said.
“There will not be a compromise on our security process,” Forte said.
Attorneys point out to enter the courthouse, they can merely swipe a key card and bypass security. At every prison and jail around the region, there are no issues with them going through security.
“We don’t care what everybody else is doing around the country. We’re going to do what’s best for our county,” Forte said.
County legislators suggested anyone who sets off the metal detectors be wanded down, then inmates be searched after all contact visits. The jail director said strip searches are already done after such meetings.
The discussion is now giving attorneys and legislators some hope the new issues with security screenings can ultimately be resolved.
“We don’t expect special treatment. We expect reasonably so that we can see our clients and do our job,” attorney Susan Dill said.
At the end of the heated meeting Wednesday, Forte and the attorneys agreed to set up a meeting. The county legislature also invited them to take advantage of the county human rights commission to act as mediators. Forte says he’s hopeful that meeting can happen this week.