One weekend day in early February, an “overzealous” officer at the Prince George’s County jail in Upper Marlboro told women visitors — including a handful of defense attorneys visiting clients — that they would have to remove their bras before going through the metal detector at the front entrance.
The male officer was apparently concerned that some bras have underwire which could set off the metal detector. Some refused to remove their bras, and didn’t see their clients that day.
After she learned of the incident, Mary Lou McDonough, director of the county Department of Corrections, said she told officers it is not the policy of the department to require women to remove their bras before going through the metal detector.
But two women — a mother and a daughter who went to the jail to visit a family member — were both ordered to remove their bras before they went through the metal detector on Wednesday, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro on Thursday.
According to the five-page lawsuit, Mary E. Proctor and Zanaisha Renee Walker were told they would have to remove their bras before entering the jail for their visit.
Proctor, 50, is the mother of Walker, who is 34, said their attorney, Jimmy A. Bell. Proctor and Walker asked if they could put their bras back on once they went through the metal detector, but were told they could not, the lawsuit alleges.
The two women were required to go into the jail holding their bras, the lawsuit alleges. Regular visitors — people who are not attorneys, private investigators, or members of law enforcement — are not allowd to bring bags or carrying cases into the jail.
The lawsuit alleges the jail violated the civil rights of Proctor and Walker because of their sex, and seeks $1 million in damages.
In a written statement, McDonough said she could not comment on the allegations because she had not had an opportunity to review the allegations.