Female lawyers allege improper searches on Mass. prison visits

Many are insisting that the search procedures are uncalled for and impede attorney's ability to counsel

By C1 Staff

NORFOLK, Mass. — Female lawyers attempting to visit their inmate clients at MCI-Norfolk are complaining of searches that go beyond the need of security.

WBUR reports that attorney Patty DeJuneas said she was pulled aside at a security check because the underwire in her bra set off the metal detectors.

She agreed to a wand search, but then the shift lieutenant insisted that she be patted down. DeJuneas was then brought behind a curtain with two female officers, who instructed her to lift up her top and to shake her bra.

“And at that point I said this isn’t a pat down, it’s a strip search, and absolutely not, I refuse to comply with this,” DeJuneas said. She was eventually able to see her client without being searched.

She wrote to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, saying the proposed search would have been illegal.

The office wrote back, stating that the “Department of Corrections officers followed the proper procedure for entry into MCI-Norfolk.”

The prison faced similar accusations in 2006 from attorney Janet Pumphrey. She also wrote a letter, and conditions improved.

Attorney Rosemary Scapicchio said she filed suit alleging similar problems more than a decade ago. The suit has since been settled and she is not allowed to discuss the settlement, but she was allowed to see her incarcerated clients.

The deputy legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts says the searches not only infringe on attorney’s rights but also affect their ability to provide counsel.

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