Underwire Under Fire: barrister barred by own brassiere

When you’re a young teenaged girl, you love going to the mall with your friends, buying keychains from Spencer’s Gifts and 2 for $20 Aeropostale t-shirts. When you needed staples like bras and
underwear though, you usually called upon mom or some other family member. For me it was my aunt which was annoying because she’s crazy cheap and she wouldn’t buy me anything that she wouldn’t buy for herself. My aunt has always hated underwire bras so for most of my high school years I was blocked from wearing them unless I bought them myself. As an adult, however, I exclusively wear them, it’s a necessity in my mind. Underwire bras help with the lift, separation and support of larger breasts. I even think the options are better looking.

You’d think walking around with two, slim pieces of U-shaped metal under your bosom would cause trouble at the airport where you can’t even wear shoes through the security screening. Nope. Somehow, those machines know the difference between harmless boob boosters and contraband lighters. Unfortunately for one Miami attorney, the metal detectors at the Miami Federal Detention Center weren’t as discerning.

According to the Miami Herald:

Attorney Brittney Horstman was not packing heat. She was wearing an underwire bra.

And when the metal detector went off on a visit to the Miami Federal Detention Center, security guards wouldn’t let Horstman in to see her client.

The attorney reminded guards of a detention center ‘memo’ allowing female attorneys wearing an underwire bra to enter. But the guards would not relent.

Horstman stepped into a bathroom and removed her bra. In blouse and jacket, she returned, and cleared the walk-through detector.

Again, guards refused to let her pass — now, because she was braless, which is against prison dress code guidelines.

First I want to shout out Brittney for letting her girls out so her client could get the representation to which he was entitled. I understand that jails need to protect against contraband getting inside, but shouldn’t there be some exception for attorneys visiting their clients? Actually, the memo mentioned above WAS the exception to the FDC’s rules on proper attire, but for some reason on this day, the guards on duty literally didn’t get the memo.

I don’t know about the readers out there, but I’ve visited jail before on several occasions. They are very strict about what you wear and what you may carry into the visiting room. At the FDC, the rules prohibit women from wearing:

  • Sweat pants
  • Sweat shirts
  • Sun dresses
  • Leotards
  • Wraparound skirts
  • Crop tops
  • Low-cut blouses
  • Zippered dresses/shirts
  • Button-down dresses/skirts
  • Low-cut dresses.
  • Any type of garment that is see-through, tight and sexually suggestive or revealing
  • Any clothing similar to that issued to staff or inmates: khaki, orange, green military fatigue, and plain white T-shirts (this goes for men too)
  • (The dress code requires women to wear bras, but does not specify what type)

Damn, Gina. Looks like it’s hard enough to know what to wear as a regular person walking into the facility but as an attorney who hasn’t otherwise violated the dress code (Hortsman was dressed in a suit and blouse), being barred from seeing her client because of her brassiere is against all common sense. Even if the guards didn’t get the memo, they should have gotten a clue.

The memo, by the way, reflected an agreement between the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and the prison “allowing female lawyers entry if guards determine – by using a wand – that their underwire bras are setting off the detector. Once it’s confirmed, the woman can enter.” Why the guards didn’t do that, instead of causing Hortsman to free her girls to no avail is beyond me.

By the way, the Constitution expressly bestows upon us the right to counsel in a number of situations. Not only is this an affront to the client/prisoner, but it’s shitty toward women in general. If the attorney were a man, this would not be an issue. Hell, if the attorney was of the A-cup sisterhood, it would not be an issue.

“It used to be that female attorneys had to give some thought about whether to wear a skirt or a pants suit to court. Now, client considerations (such as, you can’t consult with your client if you can’t get into the detention center to see him or her) may dictate that the attorney choose a bra based not upon how it fits or how it looks, but upon how metal detectors respond to it.” (Associated Content)

Yep. See it’s situations like this that make me upset and excited all at the same time. Because had it been me, I would have been thinking about how far up someone’s ass I was going to have to get if something happened to my client or his case because we couldn’t meet. I’m hype just thinking about it. I know it doesn’t sound like such a big deal upon first glance, but we don’t know the exact nature of her visit that day. It could have totally been a big deal, a time-sensitive matter, or even a needed word of comfort.

So sorry to Miami FDC and my auntie, once I pass the bar I will NOT be passing off my good bras!

*Headline so corny, I know. I just couldn’t resist good alliteration!