The reporter was told her skirt was too short. File photo / 123RF
A journalist attending an execution in the US state of Alabama was not told she was not allowed to do her job – because her skirt was too short.
Al.com’s Ivana Hrynkiw Shatara was due to attend the execution of Joe Nathan James jnr when she was blocked by his dress code violation.
James, 50, was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1994 shooting death of his former girlfriend Faith Hall, 26,
Shatara revealed the details online after other outlets reported that one of their own was barred from attending.
“Tonight I was told publicly by a representative from the Alabama Department of Corrections that I could not attend the execution because my skirt was too short.”
She said she had worn the same skirt in previous performances and thought it was more than appropriate.
“I have tried pulling my skirt over my hips to lengthen the skirt but was told it was still not appropriate,” she wrote.
A colleague came to his rescue but was only able to offer him his wet weather gear – waterproof waders held up with suspenders.
She changed into a bizarre outfit, but conservative southern state officials found something else to complain about – her shoes were “too revealing”.
She then swapped the peep-toe heels for tennis shoes she had in her car.
“It was an uncomfortable situation, and I felt embarrassed to have my body and clothes questioned in front of a room of people most of whom I had never met,” she wrote.
“I sat down, tried to stop blushing and did my job. As women often have to do.”
WRBL News reported that officials said the policy was not new, adding that no reporter present could recall the policy being enforced during an execution.
After the decision was announced online, many criticized the focus on the reporter’s clothing.
“It’s always about power and control and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” wrote a fellow American journalist.
“‘Her skirt is too short to watch the execution’ sums up how brain damaged half the country is,” another tweeted.
Another shared the state’s own rules, which clearly state that skirts must reach the knee.
Joe Nathan James jnr was executed despite pleas from the victim’s family to spare his life.
He received a lethal injection in a southern Alabama prison on Thursday evening (US time) after the US Supreme Court denied his request for a stay. Officials said he was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. after the start of the execution was delayed nearly three hours.
James, 50, was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 shooting death of 26-year-old Faith Hall in Birmingham. The Hall daughters have said they would prefer James serve life in prison, but Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said Wednesday she plans to let the execution continue.
Prosecutors say James briefly dated Hall and became obsessed after she rejected him, stalking and stalking her for months before killing her. On August 15, 1994, after Hall went shopping with a friend, James broke into the friend’s apartment, pulled a gun from his belt and shot Hall three times, according to reports. court documents.
Hall’s two daughters, who were 3 and 6 when their mother was killed, said they wanted James to serve life in prison instead of being executed. Family members did not witness the execution.
“Today is a tragic day for our family. We must relive the hurt this caused us many years ago,” reads the statement released by the office of State Representative Juandalynn Givan. Givan was a friend of Hall.
“We hoped that the State would not take a life just because a life was taken and we have forgiven Mr. Joe Nathan James jnr for his atrocities towards our family… We pray that God allows us to find the healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours, even if it goes against what the state wishes,” the family statement read.
Ivey said Thursday that she still deeply considers the feelings of the victim’s family and loved ones, but “must always uphold our responsibility to the law, public safety and justice.”
“Faith Hall, a victim of repetitive harassment, serious threats and ultimately cold-blooded murder, was taken from this earth far too soon by Joe Nathan James, jnr. Now, after two convictions, a unanimous jury decision and nearly three decades on death row, Mr James was executed for capital murder and justice served for Faith Hall.”
She said the execution sends an “unequivocal message has been sent that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.”
The execution began minutes after 9 p.m. CDT after a delay of nearly three hours. James did not open his eyes or show deliberate movements at any time during the proceedings. He didn’t speak when the manager asked him if he had any last words. Her breathing became labored, with deep, pulsating breaths, and slowed until she was no longer visible.
Alabama Commissioner of Corrections John Hamm, responding to a question about why the execution was delayed, said the state was “very deliberate in our process to make sure everything went through. as expected”. He did not specify. Hamm also said James, who showed no movement at any time, was not sedated.
The execution took place in a prison that houses the state’s death row. An inmate posted signs to a cell window calling the execution a “murder”.
– Additional reports, AP