lawyers ordered to take off their bras to enter prison - THECHOWANIECS.COM

lawyers ordered to take off their bras to enter prison

Some supervisors ask to remove the bras when the whales ring the security gates. If these facts remain in the minority, they have been singled out for years as discriminatory practices.

Remove your bra so that the security gates do not ring to go see a client in detention. This is the astonishing request to which Me Naïri Zadourian had to comply on August 16, when she was trying to enter the prison of Varennes-le-Grand, in Saône-et-Loire.

“I wear a white shirt. I arrived at the visiting room in tears of shame,” she said on her Twitter account recently.

According to the story she delivers on the social network, this is not the first time that her business seems to be a problem when she shows up at the entrance of this remand center for appointments with a client. A few days before the incident, she was already saying that she would only go there with the bare minimum: “My clothes and a computer. It doesn’t change anything. I’m starting to believe that they just want to see me naked in fact”, she said ironically.

Several similar scenarios in recent years

And the situation is not as exceptional as one might think, underlines lawyer Julia Courvoisier in a tweet in response to what her colleague suffered.

In Villefranche-sur-Saône in 2016. In Fresnes prison in 2017. In Toulouse in 2020. Last year, it was in Grasse, in the Alpes-Maritimes, that a lawyer who had been able to go into detention without problem the same morning was faced with this problem, the doorbell having rung when she returned in the afternoon. As she asks to be given the mobile detector, the supervisor refuses.

“It took on crazy proportions. The management supported the supervisor”, recalls for Garance Le Meur-Abalain, member of A3D, an association representing lawyers involved in detention.

“It can be very humiliating”

If these scenarios remain in the minority, they have been singled out for many years. “It’s a very unequal practice on the territory. Already because it depends on the sensitivity of the gate and its trigger threshold”, explains Garance Le Meur-Abalain.

After several similar cases were reported by the A3D last year, the Directorate of Prison Administration published a note in July 2021: this stipulates that in the event of the security gate being triggered, the supervisor must use their manual detector, then proceed with a palpation if necessary. To understand: the removal of the bra does not have to be required in the face of this kind of problem.

Since then, admits Garance Le Meur-Abalain, fewer and fewer incidents have been reported. “For us lawyers, having this note on us or in our phone is useful to show that a guard is in the wrong” if he asks for the bra to be removed. “When you’re in your shirt every day, it can be very humiliating.”

“Bare breasts” in front of the prison guard

“I’ve always found stripping particularly sensual, less so when it’s a prison guard who forces you to take off your bra and place it in a bin to go through the security gates at the entrance to a house. arrest”, ironically Me Salomé Cohen last year, in a testimony also published on Twitter.

While the note from the director of prison administration had already been circulating for a month, the lawyer was in turn asked to comply with the controversial rule. With a colleague, she had to go to the prison of Arles for an appointment with a client planned for two months.

When she arrives at the security gate, it starts ringing. The lawyer removes one by one all the clothes likely to pose a problem, but nothing helps. The prison guard then gives him a look before declaring: “We must continue”.

“I found myself topless in front of him”, testifies Salomé Cohen, contacted by “On the other side of the security tunnel, there were toilets. But at no time did he offer us to go and change there.”

The security argument, relevant?

The one who describes herself as a “big mouth” explains that she had to capitulate to the importance of the meeting for which she came from Paris on purpose. “I was disoriented. We are used to being annoyed as women lawyers, but there we had no time to discuss”, she continues, believing that she was the victim of an excess of zeal from the from the supervisor.

Faced with the protests of certain lawyers, it is sometimes the security argument that is put forward: a detainee should not have the idea of ​​using an iron bra stay as a armed. An answer “not at all relevant”, however judges Julien Brochot, member of the Council of the Bar of the Order of Lawyers of Paris, with

“Brass without underwire can also make hanging easier. The same goes for laces or belts. The problem is endless,” he points out.

“We really touch the privacy of individuals and these requests have no logical basis”, summarizes Julien Brochot.

The penalist and the revolver

According to him, even if it cannot be said that they occur often, incidents of this kind are reported to the Council about “two or three times a year”. And Garance Le Meur-Abalain, of A3D, to add: “If there are sisters who publicize these practices, others comply with this request and do their visiting rooms without a bra.”

However, not so long ago, lawyers were not ordered to pass through security gates. We have to go back to the 1980s to see this rule emerge in the regulations of prison establishments: at the time, a young criminal lawyer, Brigitte Hemmerlin, who was defending an inmate sentenced to death, passed a weapon inside the jail by hiding it in her purse. His client seizes it to try to escape.

Sentenced to five years in prison for this fault and banned from practicing, the young woman is therefore at the origin of the obligation of lawyers to go through the gates to access the visiting rooms. “These checks constitute a form of authoritarianism”, believes today Garance Le Meur-Abalain. “We have to comply with it to visit customers.”

“A before and an after”

More broadly, these problems seem to be part of various discriminatory practices that female lawyers encounter when entering remand prisons. Recently, the Council of the Order of the Paris Bar also had to intervene with the management of Fresnes prison after a colleague was asked to remove certain clothes unjustifiably. “Jimmy Delliste – the director of the remand center – is committed to ensuring that it does not happen again,” says Julien Brochot.

For Salomé Cohen, this type of practice mainly targets women and falls under sexist practices. “We allow ourselves to do this to women, much less to men,” she says.

“There is a before and an after. Now, I’m going to tend to take a big voice, to dress in a less feminine way when I go to prison”, says the lawyer again.

Julien Brochot, however, underlines more understanding and encouraging behavior in the response of penitentiary establishments in recent times. “As it is, things aren’t perfect at all, but we’re hopeful it will get better.”

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