The Prison Bra Rule

In 1975, Scharlette Holdman, executive director of Hawaii's ACLU, tried to visit a prisoner in an all-male Hawaiian prison, at the prisoner's request. While being searched it was discovered that she wasn't wearing a bra, and so she was denied entry. She sued, and the case went to the Hawaiian Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the prison. As a result, it remains the rule that all female visitors to Hawaiian prisons must wear bras, whether or not the lack of a bra is evident.

The case: Holdman v. Olim (1978)

More info from Dressing Constitutionally by Ruthann Robson:

Scharlette Holdman, then director of the Hawai'i ACLU, sought entry to a prison and was searched by a matron who discovered Holdman was not wearing a bra. The matron denied Holdman entry, relying upon a directive that required visitors to be 'properly dressed,' 'fully clothed including undergarments,' and stated 'provocative attire is discouraged.' Holdman's challenge stressed equal protection, under both the United States and Hawai'i state constitutions, arguing that the requirement that women wear bras while men need not constituted sex discrimination. Writing in 1978, the Hawai'i Supreme Court expressed some consternation about the slight record, but relying in part on deference to prison officials, the court found that dress standards are 'intimately related to sexual attitudes' and 'the omission of a brassiere as a conventional article of women's clothing' has been 'regarded as sexually provocative by some members of society.' ... The fact that Scharlette Holdman's lack of a bra became evident only upon a tactile search was irrelevant: the prison could still find it would be sexually provocative to the male inmates.

Honolulu Advertiser - Feb 3, 1975

     Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 11, 2022
     Category: Prisons | Underwear | 1970s

How ‘70s that the woman hadn’t owned a bra for seven years…
Posted by Brian on 06/11/22 at 09:18 PM
Having worked the prison system for 30 years, I can attest the undergarment requirement is true right up to today. (my son still works for the DOC)
Posted by Michael Yuhas on 06/12/22 at 12:32 PM
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