A veteran Alabama news reporter was nearly barred from witnessing an execution Thursday because her skirt was too short and her heels were inappropriate, but was allowed to do her job after donning a pair of fisherman’s waders.
Ivana Hrynkiw, a reporter and managing producer with AL.com, arrived at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore to witness the execution of Joe Nathan James Jr., who killed his ex-girlfriend nearly three decades ago. But she was told by Alabama Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Kelly Betts she was in violation of the prison dress code, according to AL.com.
“I have worn this skirt to prior executions without incident, to work, professional events and more and I believe it is more than appropriate,” Hrynkiw said later on Twitter. At 5′10″ with my heels on, I am a tall and long-legged person.”
Ivana Hrynkiw Shatara,
Yes it’s a free country
criminal found guilty & given death penalty
Just reflect some respect for the action of life ending
With how you presented
Just a fun Sunday brunch
Happy go lucky day outfit
W a Smile pic.twitter.com/JqZtVkcPXO
— elizabeth (@elizabe32184838) July 29, 2022
Hrynkiw said she had to borrow a pair of Columbia PFG fisherman’s waders from a local TV cameraman. Her open-toed heels were also deemed in violation, but she had tennis shoes in her car, she said.
“I put on the man’s pants and attached the suspenders underneath my shirt to stay up,” she said.
“Despite wearing a pair of waders from a man I have never met and casual tennis shoes, I continued to do my job,” Hrynkiw said. “This was an uncomfortable situation, and I felt embarrassed to have my body and my clothes questioned in front of a room of people I mostly had never met.”
A female reporter for the Associated Press also had her outfit scrutinized in the media center room, but Betts determined she passed muster.
“This was unacceptable, unequal treatment,” said Kelly Ann Scott, editor in chief and vice president of content for Alabama Media Group. “I’m proud to work with Ivana, who despite this treatment, continued to report the story with professionalism to our audiences in Alabama.
AL.com sent a formal complaint to ADOC, Gov. Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday.
The Associated Press also wrote Ivey late Friday afternoon asking her office to investigate and “ensure such behavior is not tolerated and does not occur again.
“Singling out female reporters for arbitrary clothing inspections is humiliating, discriminatory and simply unacceptable behavior toward professional journalists trying to cover one of the most serious events they are called upon to witness,” Julie Pace, Executive Editor The Associated Press, stated in the letter.
Betts provided an online link to a prison visitation dress code, which states that “all dresses, skirts, and pants shall extend below the knee (females only). Splits/Slits must be knee length or lower (females only).”
Betts released a statement Friday afternoon, after calling Hrynkiw and personally apologizing for the unexpected enforcement of the dress code.
“The wardens of each ADOC facility enforce this dress code based on each event and current safety conditions,” the statement said. “It will be the policy of ADOC in the future to remind all members of the media about this dress code before any media event taking place at an ADOC facility.
“We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this regulation may have caused. We hope by including it in future media advisories, we can avoid this kind of situation.”
The death by lethal injection of James, 50, faced a three-hour delay due to problems with the IV line. He was pronounced dead just after 9 p.m.