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Sheriff apologizes for jail asking attorneys to remove bras

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce speaks at a news conference in Portland on April 8, 2015.

PORTLAND, Maine — A public apology was issued Thursday from Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce to the two attorneys who were asked to remove their underwire bras before entering the county jail because they activated the metal detectors.

The attorneys in question, however, are still not satisfied.

Earlier this week, Joyce stopped short of apologizing to attorneys Amy Fairfield and Gina Yamartino after they had complained about being asked to remove their underwire bras, something they refused to do.

On Thursday morning however, Joyce called a press conference.

“I would like to publicly apologize to attorneys Fairfield and Yamartino and any other unknown visitors or professionals who had been confronted with this situation,” he said.

Security at the jail was tightened about a year ago, said Joyce, but this is the first time he had heard about underwire bras triggering metal detectors, a situation he says he had not foreseen.

“While our goal has always been to keep our jail safe and secure as possible, I want to do so in a manner that fairly balances those considerations with the interests of the general public and in particular our professional visitors,” he said. “In this case, we did not strike that balance as well as we could have.”

Joyce said he accepts personal responsibility for not having provided more specific guidance to his staff on the issue.

Going forward, he said such requests will not be made again of visitors, although he stressed security will not be compromised.

If the metal detector is set off and it’s determined by a wand search that an underwire bra is the culprit, the visitor will be allowed to keep the garment on.

But for the offended attorneys, Joyce’s reassurances are not enough.

“No I’m not satisfied with that response,” said Yamartino. “I’m actually concerned.”

Reached by cellphone Thursday afternoon, Yamartino said she has been asked to remove her bra three times while visiting the jail.

“This is just not OK,” she said.

Fairfield, meanwhile, said that while she welcomes Joyce’s apology, this is not the end of the matter for her.

“I think there’s certainly more women who have endured what attorney Yamartino and I did,” she said.

Both women said they’re concerned about how the jail is run and won’t be happy until an independent investigation is launched.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public Broadcasting Network.


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