A Lack of Support for Bra-Wearing Jail Visitors

Underwire Can Set Off Metal Detectors

By John Wist
|  Thursday, Feb 10, 2011  |  Updated 1:57 PM EDT
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On the list of things that could keep you from visiting any secure building, a bra is usually not one of them. But an incident at a Maryland jail over the weekend is raising the question of bras behind bars.

The Washington Post reports that a guard at that Prince George’s County jail told several female visitors, including defense attorneys, that they would have to remove their bras before going through metal detectors.

Some of the women refused -- and a few made calls to the county’s public defender, Brian Denton, saying they were worried the bra removal was a new policy in place at the jail.

Finally on Monday, a clarification came from the county’s director of corrections.

“It was a training issue,” Mary Lou McDonough told the Post.

McDonough went on to say that the jail had new metal detectors that produce arrows on a graph indicating where metal could be on the person’s body. She told the Post that the machine is sensitive enough now to tell the difference between contraband and the underwire of a bra.

Jail and prison systems in the D.C. area have different policies when it comes to underwire bras. In Montgomery County, for instance, visitors are not required to remove bras but will be inspected with a handheld detector if the bra happens to set off the main metal detector.

The same policy stands in Virginia state prisons, but if the handheld detector is set off, the visitor could be asked to step aside and pull up their shirt with an officer of the same sex.

But visitors to Maryland state prisons may want to think about what they wear before they head to the prison. Anyone who sets off the metal detector is not allowed to enter the facility. The Post spoke to one woman who said she keeps a sports bra in her car for when she has to visit Maryland facilities.


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