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Leg chains are in. Legs are out. That’s the word from the fashion police over at Miami’s Federal Detention Center visiting area, where attorney Rebekah Poston got booted for improper attire, again, last week. Poston, chairman of Steel Hector & Davis’ white-collar criminal defense practice and corporate compliance group and co-chair of the firm’s immigration practice group, said she doesn’t own a stitch of clothing that’s longer than knee-length. That’s a problem for prison officials, who follow a federal code that bans women visitors from wearing too-short skirts, blouses that zip or button down the front, or even sweaters. Also banned are halter tops, Spandex pants and “clothing with revealing holes,” according to a “Social Visiting” rule list distributed at the detention center. The idea is to not encourage sexual activity in a visiting area full of men who don’t get out much, said spokeswoman Trish Ward. “We don’t want to cause problems that we don’t need to.” On Thursday, Aug. 7, wearing a navy blue, almost-knee-length dress, buttons down the middle, Poston went to the facility in downtown Miami to interview a client facing federal time for conspiracy to import cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm. The visit was part of Miami-based Steel Hector & Davis’ pro bono participation in a rotation of attorneys who represent indigent defendants in criminal court when the public defender’s office is conflicted out, such as cases with multiple defendants. The law firm makes use of the program to introduce associates to federal court practice, under a partner’s supervision. Poston said she’s been turned away before, even when wearing her most conservative outfits, those she wears to client court hearings. An associate working with her on a case last year got sent away for wearing a sleeveless blouse. Another time, a paralegal’s jacket didn’t match her skirt, so the jacket was deemed a sweater and she wasn’t allowed in. “The thing that bothers me most,” Poston said, “is I can understand too short, but button-down, or a sweater or dress that doesn’t match?” Lawyers should get some leeway, she said. Ward responds that the detention center isn’t a courthouse, it’s a prison and the rules are different. Sweaters can be used to conceal fondling; blouses that zip or button down the front can be used to flash prisoners; short skirts look shorter when women sit or bend, she said. “If you came and observed some of the women who come through here … ,” she added, her voice trailing off, “I don’t even have to say anything. Sometimes I say to myself, ‘Oh, my God, that woman, can she breath?’ “ “We try to maintain some respectability around here,” Ward said. Lawyers do get leeway, but as for Poston’s attire last week, Ward said, “What she was wearing was not appropriate.”

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