Prison reacts after journalist was forced out of execution hearing due to ‘short skirt’

Ivana Hrynkiw, journalist and executive producer at AL.com, took to Twitter to share news of her experience which took place when she attempted to witness the execution of death row inmate Joe Nathan James Jr at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility.

The reporter claimed that an ADOC representative told her “publicly” that she could not attend the execution because her “skirt was too short”, and noted that she had worn the same skirt during previous “uneventful” runs.

She ended up changing her skirt for waterproof pants borrowed from a photographer, but was then told that her open-toed heels were “too revealing”, forcing her to swap them for a pair of sneakers that she had in her car.

Hrynkiw described herself as being “embarrassed to have [her] body and clothes interrogated in front of a room full of people”, but she did her best to “stop blushing” and continue her work.

Following the incident, the reporter asked to be provided with the prison dress code and received an online link from Kelly Betts, public information officer for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

The code stated that “all dresses, skirts and trousers must extend below the knee (women only)”, and prohibited footwear included “slippers, shower shoes and beach shoes”.

Betts admitted reporters may not have been aware of the policy and said it had not been enforced before, but Holman’s new manager Terry Raybon wanted the policy enforced. .

The Alabama Department of Corrections issued an apology after the incident. Credit: Shutterstock

In a statement released after the incident, Betts commented, “The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has an bylaw regarding visits to any ADOC facility. As part of that bylaw, there is a dress code for all visitors, including journalists covering the executions All bylaws are posted on the ADOC website.

“Guards at each ADOC facility enforce this dress code based on each event and current security conditions. It will be ADOC policy going forward to remind all members of the media of this dress code prior to any media event taking place at an ADOC facility.”

Betts went on to apologize for “any confusion or inconvenience this settlement may have caused,” adding, “We hope that by including it in future media advisories, we can avoid this kind of situation.”

In addition to addressing the issue in a statement, Betts called Hrynkiw to personally apologize for the sudden application of the policy.