In Alabama, the jail guards are also the fashion police.
A reporter in the southern state says she was forbidden by prison officials from covering an execution Thursday night because they said her skirt was too short.
Ivana Hrynkiw Shatara, a video news producer for AL.com, claims she was told by a Department of Corrections that her outfit was “inappropriate” and “too revealing” as they barred her from joining other journalists in viewing the lethal injection of convicted killer Joe Nathan James, she tweeted Friday.
She wound up having to borrow rain pants from a male photographer, held up with suspenders under her skirt — and her media company is now filing a “formal complaint,” she said.
“I have worn this skirt to prior executions without incident, to work, to professional events and more, and I believe it is more than appropriate,” Shatara wrote Thursday night.
Shatara told The Post that the item was an A-line, black skirt from the brand Philosophy. The skirt was about 3.81 centimetres above the knee.
She insisted that the garment may have appeared to show too much skin because her legs are long.
“At 5ft 7in, and 5ft 10in with my heels on, I am a tall and long-legged person. I tried to pull my skirt to my hips to make the skirt longer but was told it was still not appropriate,” she added.
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To complete the assignment, the journalist borrowed rain pants from a photographer then slipped them on under her skirt – only to be told that her open-toed heels were also inappropriate, she said.
“I was told my shoes were also too revealing…and needed to change shoes,” she said.
So she grabbed a pair of tennis shoes from her car and was ultimately able to attend the execution – but later said she was treated unfairly.
“This was an uncomfortable situation and I felt embarrassed to have my body and my clothes questioned in front of a room full of people I mostly had never met,” she wrote. “I sat down, tried to stop blushing and did my work.”
On Friday evening, she told The Post that the firm she works for, Alabama Media Group, plans to send a formal complaint to the Alabama Department of Corrections.
“Going forward, if there is a dress code that is going to be enforced, members of the media need to be made aware before the day of the executions,” she said.
“There has never been, at least in the past decade that my co-workers and myself have covered executions in Alabama, a dress code revealed to reporters or enforced,” she added.
“The published visitor policy does not mention members of the media, nor execution protocols. It also doesn’t mention closed-toe shoes and only addresses women’s attire.”
The Alabama Department of Corrections didn’t immediately return The Post’s request for comment.
But corrections departments in other states have implemented visitor dress codes forbidding revealing clothing to avoid eliciting reactions from female-starved male inmates, and “to maintain a positive environment for all inmates and visitors.”
James, 49, was executed by lethal injection after being sentenced to death for murdering his 26-year-old former girlfriend, Faith Hall, in 1994.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post and has been reproduced with permission.