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Female attorneys demand clarity on Jackson County jail security protocol

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 19:26:42-04

The fight continues between some female attorneys in Jackson County and Sheriff Darryl Forte.

Now, one of those attorneys, Sheena Foye, is speaking out for the first time after being denied access to her client Monday because of metal loops on her shirt sleeve.

Foye visits clients across the Kansas City area, but this was her first time visiting the Jackson County Detention Center since new security measures were put in place. Foye was denied entry for a meeting with an inmate Friday.

"The metal detector beeped and I indicated that I don't have any other metal other than the underwire and the guard said, 'You are unable to come in unless you pass security screening,'" said Foye, an attorney with the law firm of Wyrsch, Hobbs and Mirakian.

Foye canceled the meeting then bought a no-wire bra last weekend and returned to the jail Monday, but she set off the alarms again as she passed through security.

"It beeped again and I said again, 'I don't have any metal on my body. I am unsure what is going on,'" Foye said. "The guard pointed and I had a tab on my long sleeve shirt to make it a three-quarter-length sleeve shirt. I said, 'I can't believe it's setting it off.'"

Jail officials allowed Foye to meet with her client, but only through glass and speaking over a phone — a setup she said hinders interaction with her client.

"This is not an effective way to meet with our clients," Foye said. "Certainly, the next time I see this client, I'll need to see him in person. I'll have some pleading and things I need to go over with him. Through a glass, I am just not able to do that."

Despite repeated requests from 41 Action News for an interview or comment, Forte has not responded.

However, 41 Action News obtained between another attorney and Forte, attempting to set up a meeting to discuss the ongoing security issue.

The Jackson County Legislature has requested that Forte take the meeting, but he said via email June 21 that "the legislature has no authority over the Sheriff's Office."

He also expressed concern what he perceived to be unethical behavior among some of the upset attorneys: "Some attorneys, who have been purported to have been unable to successfully process through security screening, have been untruthful," Forte said via email.

Foye understands the need to scure the jail, but believes a better balance can be struck, especially with female attorneys needing access to clients.

"I recognize that they do have to keep the facility secure, but I think there should be some sort of secondary screening process, if they metal detectors sets you off," she said.

No meeting has taken place or is scheduled between concerned attorney and Forte.