Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce addresses a contentious new policy at the Portland jail that requires female attorneys to remove their underwire bras to meet with their inmate clients. 
Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty

Sheriff apologizes to lawyers made to remove bras to enter jail

A sheriff in Maine has apologized to two lawyers who were told that they’d need to remove their bras in order to get past a metal detector and visit their clients in jail.

“I’ve already offered my personal apologies,” Sheriff Kevin Joyce of Cumberland County said. “It was never my intention, nor that of the officers involved, to embarrass anyone.”

Joyce said he accepts “complete responsibility” for the incident, acknowledging that deputies weren’t trained on how to handle the situation. He said they would use a metal detecting wand in the future.

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The two lawyers declined to remove their bras and were turned away from the jail without being able to see their clients.

Joyce said the threat of contraband being slipped to inmates remains a serious concern. But he added that an investigation is being conducted into how long women have been made to remove their bras — it may have been a while.

Amy Fairfield, one of the lawyers, told the Associated Press that more than 20 other women have complained to her about being treated unfairly by deputies at the metal detector since her story went public.

“There are many, many other women who have endured what I did,” Fairfield said. “There’s definitely a chain of command issue here.”