An Alabama reporter was stopped and turned down from attending an execution on Thursday night after prison officials said that her skirt was too short and inappropriate. Ivana Hrynkiw Shatara, a video news producer for AL.com, said that prison guards made her change to a different outfit as they felt her dress was "too revealing".
Shatara said that ultimately had to borrow a male photographer's rain trousers, which she held up with suspenders below her skirt. Her media company has since filed a "formal complaint," she added. Shatara claims that there was nothing inappropriate with her dress and the skirt was only about 1.5 inches above the knee.
Prison Guards Turn Fashion Police
Shatara was scheduled to attend Joe Nathan James Jr.'s execution on Thursday in Atmore, Alabama, but she was stooped by prison officials because of her attire. James, 50, was found guilty and was sentenced to death for shooting and killing his 26-year-old ex-girlfriend Faith Hall in 1994.
Shatara who was covering the execution for her media company AL.com, said that there were no problems when she wore the skirt to the William C. Holman Correctional Facility's executions on multiple occasions.
However, on Thursday, Shatara was denied access to view James' lethal injection alongside other journalists because her clothing was deemed "inappropriate" and "too revealing" by the Department of Corrections, she tweeted on Friday.
"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.
She then had to borrow a male photographer's rain pants, holding them up with suspenders below her skirt.
However, that wasn't the end of the ordeal. The officer at the Alabama Department of Corrections apparently informed Shatara that her "open toe heels" were also inappropriate after forcing her to change into a fellow member of the press' waders.
"I was told my shoes were also too revealing...and needed to change shoes," she said.
Shatara had to sprint all the way to her car and put on her tennis shoes before being permitted to re-enter and resume her work.
The outfit, according to Shatara, was a black, A-line skirt made by the company Philosophy. The skirt was about 1.5 inches above the knee, which she thinks was absolutely fine. She maintained that because her legs are long, the outfit might have appeared to reveal too much skin.
"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.
"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."
Before Shatara decided to post about her experience online, a CBS reporter tweeted about the situation first.
Shatara told The New York Post on Friday night that the Alabama Department of Corrections will receive an official complaint from the company she works for, Alabama Media Group.
"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 told the outlet.
"There has never been, at least in the past decade that my coworkers 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."
According to the ADOC's visiting guidelines from 2022, "all dresses, skirts, and pants shall extend below the knee (females only). Splits/Slits must be knee length or lower (females only)."
It's not clear, though, if this decision covers visitors who are working while there or just those who are paying a visit to an inmate. Other journalists have come out in support of her after seeing her post, which has received nearly 10,000 likes and thousands of retweets.