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Corrections Law for
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Strip Search: Prisoners
Journal Article: Routine Strip Searches to
Combat Contraband, 2010
(4) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Law Journal Article: Cross Gender Strip Searches
of Prisoners -- Part One, 2010
(5) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Law Journal Article: Cross Gender Strip Searches
of Prisoners -- Part Two, 2010
(6) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Law Journal Article: Federal Appeals Court
Reexamines Cross-Gender Strip Searches, 2011 (2)
AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Articles: An Update on Jail Strip
Searches of General Population Detainees, 2013 (2) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
A woman arrested for domestic battery
refused to exit the vehicle transporting her to the jail. She shouted
obscenities, exhibited slurred speech, and was extremely combative. She tested
positive for cocaine and cannabinoids, and later claimed that she had been
experiencing a “post‐traumatic
stress disorder flashback.” Refusing to change into a jail uniform, two female
and three male officers restrained her, placed her on her stomach, held her
arms over her head, and lifted off her shirt. She responded by banging her head
against the floor while shouting, “They’re going to rape me.” The officers
removed her clothing, draped a jail uniform over her body, and left her in a
cell. She then had a seizure and was hospitalized. She sued under 42 U.S.C.
Sec. 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Her lawsuit claimed that
the jail had a “widespread practice” of using excessive force during strip
searches, and failing to reasonably accommodate people experiencing emotional
distress during such searches. Other prisoners joined her lawsuit to challenge
a policy requiring female detainees to wear either white underwear or no
underwear at all. The strip search claims were properly rejected, as there was
insufficient evidence of such a custom or practice. Summary judgment was
inappropriate as to detainees' claim that the jail's policy requiring female
detainees to wear white underwear or no underwear violated the Fourteenth
Amendment because the record did not show the policy was within any
correctional mainstream, irregular enforcement created the potential for abuse,
and the detainees alleged a credible harm to dignity interests. Mulvania v.
Rock Island County Sheriff, #16-1711, 850 F.3d 849 (7th Cir. 2017).
A middle school student’s mother sued the county and other defendants after her
daughter was arrested for fighting on school property, taken to a juvenile
detention facility, and underwent a strip and body cavity search. A federal
appeals court upheld partial summary judgment for the county on the Fourth
Amendment claim, applying the deferential test in Florence v. Board of Chosen
Freeholders, #10-945, 566 U.S. 318 (2012). The deference given to
correctional officials in the adult context applies to correctional officials
in the juvenile context as well. Applying Florence, the court concluded that
plaintiff failed to make a substantial showing that the center's search policy
is an exaggerated or otherwise irrational response to the problem of center
security. Mabry v. Lee County, #16-60231, 849 F.3d 232 (5th Cir. 2017).
county sheriff had a written policy that mandated the strip search of every
arrestee entering the detention center's general population. It also allowed
manual body-cavity inspections of some arrestees. A class was certified of
"All persons held in the custody of the Sheriff of Kankakee County from April
20, 2010 to the date of entry of judgment who, following a warrantless arrest,
were strip searched in advance of a judicial determination of probable cause,”
The lawsuit was later dismissed, finding that it was valid as applied to the
class, based on the subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Florence v.
Burlington County, #10-945, 132 S. Ct. 1510 (2012). A federal appeals court
vacated, ruling that it was possible that while the written policy may be valid
that its application might not be. At least two class members were allegedly
not headed towards the general population when searched, claiming that they
were arrested, strip searched, and immediately released. Fonder v. Kankakee
County, #15-2905, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 9672 (7th Cir.).
A female former inmate
at a correctional facility claimed that three female officers threw her to the
ground, lifted her smock, and forcibly opened her legs to allow a male officer
to visually inspect her genitalia for mattress cotton. A Fourth Amendment claim
regarding this visual body cavity search could go forward because the plaintiff
retained a limited right to bodily privacy and there were disputed issues of
fact concerning whether the search took place and the purported justification
for it. There appeared to be no evidence that the plaintiff was in such
imminent danger of harming herself that the search had to be conducted right
away by the male officer at the scene. An Eighth Amendment excessive force
claim could also go forward. Harris v. Miller, #14-2957, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis
4701 (2nd Cir.).
A class action lawsuit was filed against a
county's policy of strip searching every prisoner admitted into the county
jail, regardless of the nature of their crime or any suspicion that they
possessed weapons or contraband. At the time, precedent in the Second Circuit
Court of Appeals suggested that such a policy was unconstitutional. The county
and its insurance carrier agreed to settle the lawsuit for a payment of $5,000
to the named plaintiff and $1,000 for each of over 800 other plaintiffs, along
with attorneys' fees. The insurer claimed that the payout to each individual
plaintiff should be subject to a separate deductible, so that the county had to
pay the insurer 800 deductibles. The highest court in New York agreed, as the
policy definition of an "occurrence" involved personal injuries to an
individual person as a result of harmful conduct, and did not permit the
grouping of multiple individuals who were harmed by the same condition. Each
strip search was a separate and distinct occurrence subject to a separate
deductible. The court rejected the county's argument that it should only pay a
single deductible. Selective Ins. Co. of Am. v. County of Rensselaer,
2016 NY Slip Op 01001, 2016 N.Y. Lexis 133.
A 12-year-old boy brandished a homemade knife and
threatened to break a girl's arms. Three weeks later, after juvenile charges
were filed, he was taken to a county youth detention facility, processed, and
strip searched. The strip search was conducted under a facility policy to check
incoming youths for “injuries, markings, skin conditions, signs of abuse, or
further contraband." The search was conducted with the boy behind a
curtain so that only the officer conducting the search could observe him. The
boy was made to remove his pants and underwear for approximately 90 seconds, as
well as to bend over, spread his buttocks, and cough. In his lawsuit
challenging the search, a federal appeals court held that the U.S. Supreme
Court holding in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, #10-945, 132 S. Ct.
1510 (2012) that every arrestee committed to the general population of a
detention center can be subjected to a close visual inspection while undressed
applies to juvenile offenders such as the plaintiff admitted to the general
population in a juvenile detention facility. J. B. v. Fassnacht, #14-3905, 2015
U.S. App. Lexis 16404 (3rd Cir.).
An African-American inmate claimed that four
correctional officers violated his constitutional rights during a visual body
cavity search when he returned to a correctional facility from a school. He
said that he was told to remove his clothes, lift his genitals, and bend over
and spread his buttocks. He further complained that the search took place in
front of other prisoners and in the view of a security camera, so that female
correctional officers observed the search via video. He also claimed that one
of the officers subjected his to a racial slur by calling him a
"monkey." A federal appeals court found the plaintiff failed to
establish that any of this conduct violated his clearly established
constitutional rights. Story v. Foote, #13-2834, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 5719
A prisoner claimed that it amounted to an
unjustified and humiliating strip search in violation of the Fourth and Eighth
Amendments when he was allegedly forced to wear a see-through jumpsuit that
exposed his genitals and buttocks while being transported from a county jail to
a state prison. A federal appeals court ruled that the prisoner stated a plausible
Eighth Amendment claim that the jail's requirement that he wear this garment
during transport had no legitimate correctional purpose, but was only used to
humiliate him and inflict psychological pain. As a convicted prisoner, however,
he could not proceed on his claim that the requirement of the garment
constituted an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The
prisoner's allegedly failure to exhaust available administrative remedies as
required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act did not bar the lawsuit, as his
transfer to state prison made it impossible for him to exhaust the jail's
grievance procedures, so there were no available remedies for him to exhaust.
King v. McCarty, #13-1769, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 5008 (7th Cir.).
A woman was arrested and charged with driving on a
license suspended for failure to pay a traffic ticket, She paid her ticket and
fines, but while waiting to be released later that same day from the city jail,
was ordered to undress and shower in the presence of a corrections officer and
two other female detainees. She was also subjected to a visual body cavity
search, being instructed to bend at the waist and spread her buttocks. While
bent over, despite the fact that there was no indication that she had lice, the
officer sprayed her all over her naked body, including into her anus, with a
delousing solution. A federal appeals court ruled that the complaint plausibly
alleged a Fourth Amendment violation in that the jail, rather than using less
invasive procedures, required pretrial detainees who were being processed into
the facility to undress in the presence of other detainees and to have their
naked genitals sprayed with delousing solution from a pressurized metal
canister. It could have, for instance, allowed such detainees to apply the
solution themselves. The appeals court rejected the trial court's ruling that
the issue raised in the case was precluded from being raised by the U.S.
Supreme Court's decision in Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of Cnty. of
Burlington, #10-945, 132 S. Ct. 1510 (2012), upholding the constitutionality of
a blanket policy of strip searching incoming pretrial detainees absent
individualized suspicion that each detainee was concealing contraband. Williams
v. City of Cleveland, #13-4162, 771 F.3d 945 (6th Cir. 2014).
A lawsuit by two plaintiffs challenged both strip
searches and delousing procedures at a West Virginia Regional Jail. A federal
appeals court upheld summary judgment for the defendants on the strip search
claims, since the law on the subject was not yet clearly established when one
of the two plaintiffs was strip searched, and the strip search of the second
was lawful under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Florence v. Board of
Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, #10-945, 132 S.Ct. 1510 (2012),
ruling that deference should be given to jail officials unless substantial
evidence showed their response to a situation to be exaggerated and that
concerns about gang members provided a reasonable basis to justify a visual
inspection for signs of gang affilioation during intake. Summary judgment was
also granted on claims relating to the jail's delousing procedures which
violated no clearly established law. Cantley v. West Virginia Regional Jail,
#13-7655, (4th Cir.).
Arrestees taken into custody between specified
dates on charges not involving felony violence, drugs, or weapons were
certified as a class to challenge their strip search prior to or with their
presentment to a court, The court found that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision
in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, #10-945,
132 S.Ct. 1510 (2012), since it was issued approximately four years after the
end of the class period ended, did not show that the law on jail strip searches
was clearly established at the time at issue. Summary judgment on the basis of
qualified immunity was therefore upheld. West v. Murphy, #13-2014, 771 F.3d 209
(4th Cir. 2014).
A man arrested for DUI admitted that he had
recently smoked marijuana and he was then subjected to a visual inspection body
cavity search at a detention center. In his lawsuit over the search, defendant
officers were entitled to qualified immunity. At the time of the strip search,
there was no clearly established law in the Eighth Circuit, and a reasonable
officer would have had a "solid belief" that strip searching an
arrestee was constitutional if there was reasonable suspicion that the detainee
possessed contraband. Jacobson v. McCormick, #12-3530, 763 F.3d 914 (8th Cir.
In a lawsuit claiming a violation of the Fourth
Amendment because of strip searches of female detainees in D.C. facilities
while awaiting presentment hearings in court, and claiming a violation of equal
protection because male detainees were allegedly not similarly strip searched,
the District of Columbia could not be held liable because the former Superior
Court Marshal was not a D.C. official but an appointed federal official and was
not a policymaker for the district. The Marshal was entitled to qualified
immunity as the Fourth Amendment right he was accused of violating was not
clearly established at the time. As to the equal protection claim, there was no
evidence that he purposefully directed that male and female detainees should be
searched differently. Johnson v. Government of the District of Columbia,
#11-5115, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 23060 (D.C. Cir.).
An ex-prisoner from Illinois claimed that, during
his incarceration, he was subjected to a number of improper strip searches
designed to humiliate him and that this was done in retaliation for his filing
of grievances complaining about earlier searches. A jury returned a verdict for
the defendants. On appeal, the court reversed, finding that the trial court
improperly instructed the jury by putting the burden of proof on the wrong
party, telling them that, to prevail on his retaliation claim, the prisoner had
to prove that his filing of the prior grievances "were the sole cause of
the particular strip search." The court stated that "The jury should
have been instructed that the plaintiff had the burden of proving that
retaliation was a motivating factor in the strip search, but that, even if he
proved this, the defendants could still prevail if they persuaded the jury that
it was more likely than not that the strip search would have taken place even
if there had been no retaliatory motive."Mays v. Springborn, #11-2218,
2013 U.S. App. Lexis 11762 (7th Cir.).
A prison guard allegedly spent five to seven
seconds fondling a clothed pretrial detainee's genitals during a pat down
search, as well as another two or three seconds doing so during a subsequent
strip search, despite the detainee's verbal protests. Reversing summary
judgment for the defendant guard in the detainee's lawsuit, a federal appeals
court stated that "an unwanted touching of a person's private parts,
intended to humiliate the victim or gratify the assailant's sexual desires, can
violate a prisoner's constitutional rights whether or not the 'force' exerted
by the assailant is significant." The trial court's mention of "de
minimus injury" inappropriately invoked excessive force cases. Washington
v. Hively, #12–1657, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 17426 (7th Cir.).
Subjecting an arrestee taken into custody on
civil contempt charges to a strip search at a county jail did not violate his
constitutional rights. County jail and county correctional facility rules could
mandate such searches for persons entering the general population and did not
have to limit strip searches to persons reasonably suspected of possessing
drugs, weapons, or other contraband. Security interests in preventing smuggling
at the time of prisoner intake is as strong as the interest in preventing it
during contact visits. Jails need not show a past history of smuggling problems
to justify such searches, and the strip searches helped deter smuggling.
Applying the search policy to all arrestees also helped promote equal
treatment. Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington,
#10-945, 2012 U.S. Lexis 2712.
A woman arrested for a misdemeanor of hindering
apprehension of her husband was strip searched at the county jail pursuant to a
policy of strip searching all arrestees entering the facility for felonies, or
for Class A or B misdemeanors. A federal appeals court, acting en banc,
declined a county's request that it overrule its prior precedent requiring
reasonable suspicion of possession of a weapon or contraband before a detainee
is strip searched. The defendant county failed to object to jury instructions
including the reasonable suspicion requirement, and the court could not say
that these instructions constituted plain error. The court upheld a judgment
for the plaintiff of $55,000 for mental anguish, $5,000 in punitive damages,
$157,394.60 in attorneys' fees, and $37,153.95 in costs. Jimenez v. Wood County
#09-40892, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 20748 (5th Cir. en banc.).
A male prisoner's lawsuit claiming that a strip
search violated his Eighth Amendment rights should have survived summary judgment
when he asserted that guards stripped searched him in order to humiliate him,
that female civilian spectators and female staff members were present during
the search, and that the spectators were allowed to jeer at him and engage in
"sexual ridicule." May v. Trancoso, #09-3196, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis
5275 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
In Byrd v.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Dep't, #07-16640, 583 F.3d 673 (9th Cir., 2009), a
three-judge federal appeals panel ruled that a pretrial detainee failed to show
that there was any discriminatory intent towards male detainees in subjecting
him to a partial strip search and pat down of his groin area by a female cadet
officer despite the nearby availability of male detention officers. The
detainee was clad only in pink boxer shorts made of very thin material. The
search was held to be reasonably related to legitimate objectives and there was
no showing of deliberate indifference to any pain the search might have caused
because of its cross-gender aspect. Under these circumstances, the court also
found, the search did not constitute "punishment." And it held that
the search was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.The U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Ninth Circuit, rehearing the case en banc, by a 6-5 vote overturned this
ruling in part, finding that the scope of the intrusion in conducting this
non-emergency cross-gender strip search of the detainee's genital area
"far exceeded" the scope of searches previously allowed by the court,
and that the search was unreasonable as a matter of law. The court majority
also focused on the presence of onlookers and the fact that one of them
videotaped the searches. The court still rejected equal protection claims based
on the fact that such non-emergency cross-gender strip searches were allegedly
only conducted on males and not on female detainees and prisoners. It stated
that such an equal protection claim could have been further pursued, but that
essential elements of such a claim were not fully developed. The dissenting
judges would not have characterized the search that occurred as a strip search
at all, calling it a pat-down search in light of the fact that the detainee
kept on his boxer shorts. Byrd v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Dept., #07-16640,
2011 U.S. App. Lexis 86 (9th Cir. en banc.).
An arrestee charged with civil contempt claimed
that he was improperly subjected to strip and visual body cavity searches by
officers at a jail prior to taking a supervised shower. The appeals court ruled
that the procedures followed were reasonable and did not violate the Fourth
Amendment because of the strong interest in preventing the smuggling of
contraband into the jail at the time of intake. Subjecting all arrestees to
such searches promoted "equal treatment." Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders
of the County of Burlington, #09-3603, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 19548 (3rd Cir.).
A $1.1 million settlement agreement has been
reached in a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of almost 500 detainees who
allegedly were subjected to unlawful strip searches in a Massachusetts county
jail. The strip searches were allegedly conducted without any basis to believe
that the detainees were in possession of drugs, contraband, or weapons. Each
class member will receive up to $3,500. The lawsuit was initially filed by a
man strip searched after he was arrested for failing to appear in court on a
traffic violation. He was strip searched again the following morning before
going to court, where his case was dismissed. Garvey v. MacDonald, #07-30049,
U.S. Dist. Ct. (D. Mass. July 15, 2010).
Even if a prisoner was, as he claimed, routinely
subjected to strip searches when entering and exiting a cell in the Segregated
Housing Unit (SHU), his rights were not violated, since prison officials could
conduct visual body cavity searches in a reasonable manner, and there was no
evidence of anything unreasonable about these searches. Millhouse v. Arbasak,
#09-2709, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 6875 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A federal appeals court held that an alleged
strip search of a male prisoner by a female guard in the absence of exigent
circumstances represented an arguable Fourth Amendment claim, so that a lawsuit
based on such allegations should not have been dismissed. The court also found,
however, that excessive force was not used against the prisoner. Hamer v.
Jones, #09-20431, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2688 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
A class action lawsuit claimed that a county
sheriff and his staff at the jail subjected persons detained there to
needlessly humiliating strip searches, including body cavity searches. The
trial court ruled that the defendants were not entitled to judgment as a matter
of law, since the lawsuit concerned the manner with which the searches were
carried out, rather than the fact of these searches, further noting that the
defendants were raising the contention that they were entitled to some form of
immunity for the first time even though the lawsuit had been pending for three
years. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the class of prisoners on liability,
but before the trial on the issue of damages could proceed, the defendants
appealed. The appeals court held that denial of the motion for judgment as a
matter of law was not immediately appealable, and further, was frivolous.
Mercado v. Dart, #09-3092, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 8788 (7th Cir.).
New York City has reached a $33 million
settlement in a lawsuit concerning strip searches allegedly conducted on
approximately 100,000 pretrial detainees arraigned on misdemeanors and lesser
offenses even though there was no reasonable suspicion to believe they were
concealing drugs, weapons of other contraband. These strip searches required
groups of detainees to fully undress in front of each other and in front of
multiple guards, lift their genitals or breasts, spread their buttocks, cough
while squatting, and allow guards to inspect their private body cavities.
McBean v. City of New York, #02-Civ.-05426 (S.D.N.Y.). The settlement was
reached March 17, 2010, and has been preliminarily approved by the court. Documents
concerning the case, including the stipulation of settlement, may be viewed or
downloaded at http://nycstripsearch.com/More_Information/Court_Documents.aspx
Current and former detainees in a county jail
claimed that the county had an unconstitutional policy of stripsearching every
detainee without reasonable suspicion and regardless of the offense they were
charged with. A $2.5 million settlement was reached in their class action
lawsuit, but the trial judge awarded the detainees counsel less than the
requested amount of attorneys' fees from the settlement. A federal appeals
court approved this result, finding that the trial court did not abuse its
discretion in determining that use of counsel's normal hourly rates for their
time adequately compensated them, rather than awarding a percentage of the
settlement, or using a multiplier on the normal hourly rate. While $650,000 in
attorneys' fees (26% of the settlement) was requested, the court approved
attorneys' fees and costs of $460, 796.50 (of which $344,795 were fees).
McDaniel v. County of Schenectady, #07-5580, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2922 (2nd
A federal appeals court has upheld a San
Francisco policy requiring that all arrestees to be placed in the general
population of the jail for custodial housing be subjected to a strip search.
The court found that, in balancing the intrusion on personal rights represented
by the searches and the need for the searches to combat an existing contraband
problem in the jail, the balance weighed in favor of the jail's institutional
needs. Bull v. San Francisco, #05-17080, 2010 U.S. App.Lexis 2684 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that he was singled out for a
strip search by a correctional officer when returning to his facility with
other members of a work crew because he chose the number four when asked to
pick a number between one and ten. The officer then informed him that he had
"won" the strip search "raffle," and he was strip searched
in a bathroom two feet from the urinals and compelled to stand on a dirty floor
in bare feet. Bureau of Prisons' policy authorizes such searches of work crews
returning to a facility from an outside assignment, in order to prevent the
introduction of contraband, and the selection of the prisoner for this search,
even if allegedly motivated for a "non-penological" reason, was not
rendered unreasonable by that selection method. Nunez v. Duncan, #04-36146,
2010 U.S. App. Lexis 517 (9th Cir.).
In a class action involving as many as 500,000
individual searches, a federal jury found that county jail employees violated
the law in the manner in which they conducted strip searches of detainees. The
lawsuit claimed that strip searches of male prisoners were conducted in groups
standing naked side by side, did not require reasonable suspicion that
contraband would be found, and included jail personnel using derogatory
language or making "sex noises" in a degrading fashion while
detainees bent over. A separate jury will determine the damages to be awarded
to class members. Young v. Cook County, #06-552, (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill.,
August 14, 2009). Some of the documents in the case are available online at the
website of the plaintiffs' attorneys.
A woman's claim that she was illegally subjected
to a strip search at a county detention facility could go forward when she was
never placed in the general population, even briefly, and there was no
indication of a reasonable suspicion that she was in possession of weapons,
drugs, or contraband. A federal appeals court rejected the defendants' argument
that it was not clearly established, at the time of the incident in question,
that a strip search, under these circumstances, was unlawful. Myers v. James,
#09-7001, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 15848 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A prisoner failed to show that prison officials
were deliberately indifferent to a purported risk to his health posed by his
diet and the failure to provide him with requested dietary supplements. The
prisoner claimed both that his vegan diet provided was nutritionally inadequate,
and that, as a follower of the African Hebrew Israelite religion, he should
have been given supplements considered to be "religious necessities":
including blackstrap molasses, sesame seeds, kelp, brewer’s yeast, parsley,
fenugreek, wheat germ, and soybeans. The prisoner failed to refute the prison's
assertion that providing the supplements would have involved security risks.
The appeals court ruled, however, that the prisoner's claims concerning strip
searches should have been allowed to go to a jury, since there was evidence
from which it could be found that the searches were conducted with the intent
to harass. Mays v. Springborn, #05-3630, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 15749 (7th Cir.).
In a lawsuit brought by a civilly committed
person detained as a sexually dangerous person, a federal appeals court held
that treatment facility personnel did not act unreasonably by conducting visual
body cavity searches of all patients after a cell phone case was found in a
common area, resulting in suspicion of the presence of a contraband cell phone.
The searches were carried out in private, and were strictly visual, and
institutional security was the justification. Serna v. Goodno; #05-3441, 2009
U.S. App. Lexis 11767 (8th Cir.).
The City of Philadelphia will pay $5.9 million in
settlement of a class-action lawsuit over thousands of strip searches at the
city's six detention facilities. According to the lawsuit, all new detainees
were strip searched, including persons detained overnight on minor charges
because of lack of bail. Searches allegedly usually included visual body cavity
searches. Court documents concerning the settlement can be accessed at the
website at: http://www.philadelphiastripsearch.com Boone v. City of
Philadelphia, #05-CV-1851 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Pa.).
A sheriff department's practice of conducting group
strip searches of detainees at the county detention facility violated the
Fourth Amendment. While the department, in seeking to justify the practice,
made general assertions concerning the argument that limited space and staffing
required group as opposed to individual strip searches, there was no apparent
effort made to carry out individualized searches or to take measures to
preserve individual privacy during the strip searches. There was also no
evidence presented that the group searches were more likely than individualized
strip searches to find contraband. The court also found that a policy of strip
searching or subjecting to a visual body cavity search all persons found
entitled to release from custody "could not be reconciled" with the
Fourth Amendment. Individual defendants, however, were entitled to qualified
immunity from liability. Lopez v. Youngblood, #1:07cv0474, 2009 U.S. Dist.
Lexis 28508 (E.D. Cal.).
A pretrial detainee failed to show that there was
any discriminatory intent towards male detainees in subjecting him to a partial
strip search and pat down of his groin area by a female cadet officer despite
the nearby availability of male detention officers. The search was reasonably
related to legitimate objectives and there was no showing of deliberate
indifference to any pain the search might have caused because of its
cross-gender aspect. Under these circumstances, the court also found, the
search did not constitute "punishment." Byrd v. Maricopa County
Sheriff's Dept., #07-16640, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 10939 (9th Cir.).
A jail's clothing exchange procedure for newly
admitted inmates did not constitute a strip search violating the Fourth
Amendment and conducted without reasonable suspicion. The plaintiff inmates did
not allege that they were subjected to visual or manual body cavity searches
during the clothing exchange. They were merely required to remove all their
clothing while watched by an officer, in order to prepare to take a shower and
then put on jail clothes. The court noted that such clothing exchanges are
common practices in jails and prisons, as is the need for officers to be always
"vigilant." The procedure did not violate detainee privacy or constitute
a "strip search" The plaintiffs, further, admitted that methods were
available for them to prevent viewing of their private parts if they wanted to
do so. Kelsey v. Wright, #07-0893, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 10985 (2nd Cir.).
Because there was no clearly established law that
a strip search of a female prisoner by male officers necessarily violates the
Eighth Amendment, defendant officers were entitled to qualified immunity in a
lawsuit brought over one such search. Graham v. Van Dycke, #08-3193, 2009 U.S.
App. Lexis 6819 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A woman failed to show that she suffered from
severe emotional distress as a result of cross-gender strip searches during her
weekend incarcerations. While she allegedly cried all night after the first
weekend, she went to work the following day and suffered no lost wages. While
she saw a counselor who diagnosed her as suffering from acute stress disorder,
she did not attend the regular counseling or seek any other medical attention.
She also claimed to have refrained from intimate relations with her husband for
several months, but led a mostly normal life aside from that. The court found
that she failed to establish a claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress, since a reasonable jury could not find, on the basis of her
allegations, that her emotional distress was too severe for a reasonable person
to endure. Bryan v. Fultz, #1:08cv365, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 10224 (E.D. Va.).
Strip search procedures in county jails violated
constitutional requirements when arrestees who were accused of non-indictable
offenses were allegedly strip searched without any articulated reasonable
suspicion of possession of drugs, contraband, or weapons. This was true even
when, in one jail, the searches were called a "visual observation,"
or when, in a second jail, the written policy on such searches complied,
facially, with the state of New Jersey's rules for strip searches. Such
searches at both jails required taking off all clothes, observation of the
detainee's nude body, and a shower under supervision. Searches of this kind,
without reasonable suspicion, were unconstitutional under these circumstances.
The court denied injunctive relief, however, since the arrestees failed to show
that they were likely to be strip searched in this manner in the future.
Florence v. County of Burlington, Civil Action No. 05-3619, 2009 U.S. Dist.
Lexis 7923 (D.N.J.).
A complaint alleging that group strip searches of
male pre-trial detainees at a county jail were carried out in a way designed to
humiliate them and were prolonged longer than necessary stated a possible claim
for violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and
seizures and of the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. The detainees
claimed that more than 45 male inmates at a time were ordered to strip and
squat three or four times, that they were kept together naked for a long period
of time, and that the room was "foul" as a result of body odor.
Streeter v. Sheriff of Cook County, No. 08 C 732, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 86516
While the court did not adopt a per se rule that
a charge of a crime of violence was sufficient to create an individualized
reasonable suspicion justifying an arrestee's strip search, a U.S. Marshall was
justified in strip searching, prior to a court appearance, an arrestee charged
with trying to kill a government witness by shooting him in the head, torso,
and leg. This charge, combined with the arrestee's history of violence, and the
open environment of the courthouse created a reasonable fear that he would
attempt to conceal a weapon, and justified the strip search. Harriston v. Mead,
05 CV 2058, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 79001 (E.D.N.Y.).
Pre-trial detainees subjected to blanket strip
searches as part of a booking process before they were placed into the general
jail population for the first time did not present a viable claim for violation
of their Fourth Amendment rights, despite the lack of a requirement that there
be an individualized finding of reasonable suspicion that each of them was
concealing weapons, drugs, or other contraband. The appeals court found that,
in imposing a requirement of reasonable suspicion under such circumstances, its
prior decisions "relied on, but misconstrued," the U.S. Supreme Court's
decision in Bell v. Wolfish, #77-1829, 441 U.S. 520 (1979). The appeals court
stated that the U.S. Supreme Court has never "imposed such a
requirement" for strip searching arrestees bound for the general jail
population for security and safety purposes. Powell v. Barrett, No. 0516734,
2008 U.S. App. Lexis 18907 (11th Cir.).
The prisoner's claim that he was subjected to a
strip search in a public manner in front of other prisoners in the room who
were allowed to watch was sufficient to state a possible claim that it was
conducted in an abusive or harassing manner with the intent to inflict
psychological pain and humiliate him. The court declined, therefore, to dismiss
the Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim, while dismissing a Fourteenth Amendment
due process claim. Thompson v. Milyard, Civil Action No. 07-cv-02132, 2008 U.S.
Dist. Lexis 69454 (D. Colo.).
Alleged blanket policy of strip searching all
persons arrested and classified for housing in the general jail population
violated the detainees' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when the policy
did not require reasonable suspicion of possession of weapons, drugs, or
contraband or take individualized factors into account. The defendants'
evidence concerning the discovery of contraband during the strip searches did
not provide any indication of the charges of the individuals searched or of the
reason why they were searched. Without such information, the court could not
find any reasonable relationship between the criteria triggering the searches
and the interest in carrying out the searches. The law on the subject was also
clearly established at the time of the alleged violations. Bull v. City and
County of San Francisco, No. 05-17080, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 18026 (9th Cir.).
Policies applied at county correctional facility
regarding strip searches were constitutional, and required the approval of such
searches by supervisory personnel based on specific articulable facts
justifying reasonable suspicion of possession by the individual of contraband
or a weapon. In this instance, however, in which a suspected drug courier was
strip searched, there were disputed issues of fact as to whether there was such
reasonable suspicion that she possessed drugs, as the suspicion was based on an
anonymous tip that a drug courier riding a bicycle would approach a specific
intersection, and a police log indicated that officers were advised to be
looking for a man on a bike, not a woman. Further proceedings, therefore, were
ordered against a commanding officer and a city officer who allegedly
recommended the strip search. Smith v. County of Riverside, No. 06-56848, 2008
U.S. App. Lexis 15805 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
The use of male officers to remove a suicidal
prisoner from her cell and remove her clothing was based on staffing
exigencies. The clothing was removed so that it could not be used by the inmate
to injure herself. The court granted all defendants summary judgment, also
ruling that the prisoner's removal from her cell and placement in
administrative segregation did not violate her rights, since her past suicidal
threats and current conduct justified these actions. Graham v. Van Dycke, No.
05-3397, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 53253 (D. Kan.).
Trial court acted erroneously in dismissing the
entirety of a Texas prisoner's lawsuit alleging that his rights were violated
during a strip and cavity search conducted by an officer. The male prisoner
claimed that the search took place within the view of a female prison guard and
other prisoners, and that, during the search, the officer never accused him of
possession of contraband. If these allegations were true, his Fourth Amendment
rights would have been violated. The prisoner was barred from recovering
compensatory damages for emotional or mental injuries under 42 U.S.C. Sec.
1997e(e) because he did not claim he had suffered any physical injury, but this
would not bar him from recovering punitive or nominal damages. Hutchins v.
McDaniels, No. 06-41733, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 29755 (5th Cir.).
Prisoner who claimed that he was subjected to an
order to strip in a public hallway, a strip search, and a disciplinary
proceeding, all as part of a campaign of harassment in retaliation for his
exercise of his right of access to the courts could not recover compensatory
damages when he failed to allege a physical injury as required under 42 U.S.C.
Sec. 1997e(e). His vague claim on appeal that he suffered a wrist injury
through unspecified events at some unspecified time was inadequate to alter the
result. Further, the prisoner failed to show a constitutional violation as
there were no facts showing an intent to retaliate for the exercise of his
First Amendment rights. Samford v. Staples, No. 06-20717, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis
26851 (5th Cir.).
Arrestees could pursue their claims that a state
detention facility engaged in unconstitutional strip searches of incoming
detainees, but claims against city for transporting arrestees to the facility
while knowing of these searches were dismissed. Jones v. Murphy, No. 05-1287,
2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 1220 (D. Md.).
Correctional officials were entitled to qualified
immunity in lawsuit brought by juvenile detainee allegedly subjected to strip
searches under policy allowing such searches without reasonable suspicion of
possession of contraband, as the law on the subject was not clearly established
in the context of a juvenile facility. Doe v. Preston, Civil Action No.
03-11804, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6871 (D. Mass.). [N/R]
Federal trial court finds that actions taken by
the county in response to an unconstitutional practice which developed at the
county jail of strip searching all misdemeanor detainees without requiring
reasonable suspicion of possession of contraband amounted to the county's
"acquiescence" in the practice for purposes of municipal liability.
Tardiff v. Knox County, No. CIV.02-251, 425 F. Supp. 2d 159 (D. Me. 2006).
Requiring a female juvenile to remove her outer
clothing when entering a juvenile detention facility after arrest for a curfew
violation did not constitute a full strip search and was not unreasonable,
given the state's role as a "substitute parent" for such juveniles in
its custody. Further, in 1999, at the time of the search, the case law on the
subject was not "clearly established. Smook v. Minnehaha County, No.
05-1363, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 20382 (8th Cir.). [2006 JP Oct]
City was not liable for alleged violation of a
female arrestee's Fourth Amendment rights in allegedly subjecting her to a
strip search when its official policy required that there be reasonable
suspicion that an arrestee was a threat to jail security before such a search
was conducted. Beasley v. City of Sugar Land, #05-0579, 410 F. Supp. 2d 524
(S.D. Tex. 2006). [N/R]
A misdemeanor charge of being under the influence
of a drug, standing alone, was insufficient to justify the strip search and
visual body cavity search of a woman at a county jail who never entered the
jail's general population. Individualized reasonable suspicion of possession of
drugs, other contraband, or weapons was required before conducting such a
search, but officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the law on the
subject was not clearly established at the time of the search. Way v. County of
Ventura, No. 04-55457, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 9878 (9th Cir.). [2006 JB Jun]
Factual issues as to whether visual body cavity
searches were needed on all incoming detainees at county jail, and whether the
urethral swabbing of all detainees violated their Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights precluded summary judgment for defendant correctional
officials. Thompson v. County of Cook, No. 03C7172, 412 F. Supp. 2d 881 (N.D.
Ill. 2005). [N/R]
Federal trial court preliminarily approves $12
million settlement of class action lawsuit challenging D.C. Department of
Corrections policy of conducting suspicionless strip searches of detainees who
were ruled releasable after court appearances. Court also finds that attorneys'
fee award of one-third of the settlement fund, or $4 million, was reasonable.
Bynum v. D.C., No. CIV.A.02-956, 412 F. Supp. 2d 73 (D.D.C. 2006). [N/R]
A county jail's policy of strip searching all
arrestees detained on warrants for failure to appear in court on misdemeanor or
traffic charges violated the Fourth Amendment, as did its policy of strip
searching all such arrestees when they were sent back to the jail for
processing after being ordered released by a court. Calvin v. Sheriff of Will
County, No. 03C3086, 405 F. Supp. 2d 933 (N.D. Ill. 2005). [N/R]
The alleged actions of a New York correctional
officer during a strip search of an inmate for drugs in shining a flashlight
into the inmate's anus and running his middle finger between the inmate's
buttocks in a "wiping" manner which caused the inmate to urinate on himself,
as well as allegedly rubbing his genital area up against the inmate's buttocks
did not violate the Eighth Amendment. The incident, the court found, was an
"isolated" one, did not cause the prisoner any physical injury. The
court concluded that, regardless of the officer's motivation, the incident was
not "objectively, sufficiently serious" enough to give rise to a
constitutional claim. Morrison v. Cortright, No. 04-CV-6209, 397 F. Supp. 2d
424 (W.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
Woman's strip search at county jail, although
carried out under a policy of strip searching all detainees who are to be put
in the general population, did not violate her rights, since there was
reasonable suspicion that she was concealing weapons or contraband based on her
having been charged with a violent crime. Reasonable suspicion, an appeals
court rules, is determined on an objective basis, even if those actually
carrying out the search did not subjectively suspect the detainee of possessing
weapons or contraband. Hicks v. Moore, No. 03-13868, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 18831
(11th Cir.). [2005 JB Oct]
Unclothed body cavity search of male prisoner
during cell transfer in segregated housing violated his rights if it was
"needlessly intrusive," based on presence of female officer, which
the prisoner found "degrading and humiliating. Officer who conducted the
search, however, was entitled to qualified immunity from liability because
there was, at the time of the search, January 2, 2001, no clearly established
right of the prisoner to be free from the exposure of his body to officers of
the opposite gender. Lay v. Porker, No. CV02-01680, 371 F. Supp. 2d 1159 (C.D.
Cal. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner's admitted refusal to take his
braids out during visual search provided justification for physical strip
search, as it increased suspicion that he might be hiding contraband in his
braids or elsewhere on his body. Cherry v. Frank, #04-1214, 125 Fed. Appx. 63
(7th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Aug]
Corrections officer did
not violate male prisoner's constitutional right to privacy in his genitals by
carrying out a "routine" strip search during the intake process, even
with the presence of two female nurses. Medical personnel routinely examine
patients of the opposite sex and this practice does not violate their rights.
Jackson v. Wiley, 352 F. Supp.2d 666 (E.D. Va. 2004), affirmed per curiam, 103
Fed. Appx. 505, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 15198 (4th Cir).[2005 JB May]
Alleged policy of county juvenile detention
facility of strip-searching all those admitted there, even in the absence of
reasonable suspicion of possession of weapons or contraband could not be
justified on the basis of a state statutory duty to report child abuse or
neglect, and would constitute an unreasonable search of non-felony detainees
without such reasonable suspicion. Court also holds that a strip search of one
such juvenile detainee taken into custody for a curfew violation did not become
sufficiently "non-intrusive" merely because she was permitted to keep
her underwear on. Smook v. Minnehaha County, No. Civ. 00-4202, 340 F. Supp. 2d
1037 (D.S.D. 2004). [N/R]
Strip search, including a digital rectal search,
of a prisoner who allegedly refused to cooperate and injured a guard in
resisting was reasonable and justified by a legitimate interest in maintaining
order and security. The prisoner's "conclusory" assertion that the
glove used to conduct the search was "dirty" was insufficient to show
that the search was conducted in an unsanitary manner in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Green v. Hallam, No. 03-2562, 105 Fed. Appx. 858 (7th Cir. 2004).
Female prisoner's claim that male jailer walked
by and saw her bare breasts while female officers were searching her in a
shower room did not establish a violation of her constitutional rights. Mills
v. City of Barbourville, No. 02-6404, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 23753 (6th Cir.
2004). [2005 JB Feb]
Prison employees were entitled to qualified
immunity from liability for strip search of prisoners conducted in an outside
area, which may have inadvertently been viewed by prison visitors leaving the
facility. Sabree v. Conley, No. 02-P-1267, 815 N.E.2d 280 (Mass. App. 2004).
[2005 JB Jan]
Even if female prisoner's constitutional rights
were violated when she was allegedly strip searched by male guards at city jail
"without good cause," she did not claim that the city had a policy or
custom of allowing "baseless cross-gender strip searches," so that
the city could not be held liable. Further, the Constitution does not require
jails that house female detainees either to staff more than one jailer at a
time or to staff a female jailer. The appeals court also found that even if the
prisoner alleged a constitutional violation arising out of the misuse of the
jail's video system, she failed to show any basis for holding the city liable
on the basis of any of its customs or policies. Soto v. City of Haltom, No.
03-10650, 106 Fed. Appx. 903 (5th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Administrative directive of the Connecticut
Department of Corrections mandating strip and visual body cavity searches on
prisoners when they are initially placed in restrictive housing, protective
custody, or close custody was reasonable and was not carried out in an
unreasonable manner in the case of the plaintiff prisoner, who had previously
resisted being escorted to segregation. Powell v. Cusimano, 326 F.2d 322 (D.
Conn. 2004). [N/R]
Federal appeals court rules that strip searches
performed on young girls following their entry into custody in juvenile
detention centers were constitutional on the basis of the special need to
protect them and other children in the facility, but that
"repetitive" strip searches conducted while the juveniles remained in
custody are violative of the Fourth Amendment unless there is reasonable
suspicion that the juvenile possesses contraband. N.G. v. State of Connecticut,
No. 02-9274, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 18834 (2nd Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Oct]
Strip search following which prisoner was
required to stand naked in a bathroom stall for twenty minutes until he could
produce a urine sample for random drug testing was not cruel and unusual
punishment. Search was for the legitimate purpose of preventing the
contamination of the urine samples, and correctional officer conducting the
search did not act in any improper manner. Whitman v. Nesic, #03-2728, 2004
U.S. App. Lexis 9631 (7th Cir.). [2004 JB Jul]
Federal appeals court upholds certification of class
action lawsuits in two jailhouse strip search cases. Tardiff v. Knox County,
No. 04-1065, 04-1165 (1st Cir.). [2004 JB Jun]
Misdemeanor detainee, who was awarded $1 in nominal
damages in lawsuit challenging blanket policy of strip searching all detainees
at county jail regardless of the nature of their charges, did not have any
basis to seek injunction against such searches, since he could not show that he
had a likelihood of being rearrested and sent to the same facility again and
subjected to a similar search. Shain v. Ellison, #02-9262, 356 F.3d 211 (2nd
Cir. 2004). [2004 JB May]
Male prisoner's strip search in the presence of a
female sergeant was not a violation of his Eighth Amendment or privacy rights,
even assuming that the sergeant laughed at his nakedness. The search, conducted
in response to allegations of smoking marijuana, was reasonably related to
legitimate security concerns, and verbal insults of an inmate were not
violations of his constitutional rights. Roden v. Sowders, No. 02-6427, 84 Fed.
Appx. 611 (6th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner's claim that correctional officers
grabbed his genitals during pat down searches and then subjected him to
"slow, exaggerated and humiliating" strip searches were sufficient to
state a claim for assault under New Hampshire state law. Silva v. Warden, No.
2003-196, 839 A.2d 4 (N.H. 2003). [N/R]
Federal trial court certifies class action
challenging county's alleged policy of conducting strip searches of all
pre-arraignment jail detainees without reasonable suspicion of possession of
weapons or contraband. Nilsen v. York County, 219 F.R.D. 19 (D. Me. 2003).
Inadequate definition of "strip search"
in prisoner's civil rights lawsuit required a new trial following jury verdict
for county jail officials on claims that he was unconstitutionally strip
searched while being processed in after two arrests on misdemeanor charges.
Jury instructions defined a strip search as necessarily including a look inside
the prisoner's mouth and armpits. Wood v. Hancock County Sheriff's Dept., No.
03-1564, 2003 U.S. App. Lexis 26459 (1st Cir. 2003). [2004 JB Feb]
Prison's conducting of visual body cavity
searches of sequestered, dangerous prisoners after they left a recreation area
was justified by legitimate security concerns and therefore did not violate
prisoners' rights. Practice of using only male staff members to conduct search
of male prisoners, and taking precautions to avoid unnecessary viewing of
prisoners by others not directly involved in the searches adequately protected
prisoners' privacy rights. Skundor v. McBride, 280 F. Supp. 2d 524 (S.D.W.Va.
Court grants permanent injunction against county
jail's policy of strip-searching all newly arrived pretrial detainees without
individualized reasonable suspicion that they possessed contraband. Dodge v.
County of Orange, 282 F. Supp. 2d 41 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
Equally divided federal appeals court upholds, by
4-4 vote, that Rhode Island prison officials were entitled to qualified
immunity for conducting allegedly illegal blanket strip and visual body cavity
searches of misdemeanant arrestees without particularized suspicion at a
maximum-security prison. Judges disagree as to whether it was clearly
established, at the time of the searches in 2000. Savard v. Rhode Island, No.
02-1568, 338 F.3d 23 (1st Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Dec]
Federal trial court certifies class action of
D.C. past and present detainees who were allegedly subjected to suspicionless
strip searches upon returning from court hearings declaring them releasable.
The defendants' alleged lack of knowledge as to the origin of the department's
policy of conducting suspicionless trip searches did not entitle them to a
protective order against a request for depositions of the officials "most
qualified to testify on" when and why the department "began the practice."
Bynum v. D.C., 217 F.R.D. 43 (D.D.C. 2003). [N/R]
County jail's "clothing exchange" procedure,
which resulted in officers viewing prisoners in a state of undress as they
changed from street clothes into jail uniforms, did not violate pre-trial
detainee's Fourth Amendment rights. Federal appeals court upholds the
reasonableness of the procedure even in the absence of a particular suspicion
that the detainee had weapons or contraband. Stanley v. Henson, #02-2806, 337
F.3d 961, 2003 U.S. App. Lexis 14962 (7th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Sep]
Inmates stated a valid claim against jail for
violation of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights based on an alleged
policy of conducting strip searches upon prisoners who returned to the jail
after receiving release orders. The prisoners were returned to the jail after a
court ordered their release to await the results of a search for additional
criminal charges against them. Bynum v. District of Columbia, 257 F. Supp. 2d 1
(D.D.C. 2002). [N/R]
Strip search of male prisoner in the presence of
female correctional officers could constitute cruel and unusual punishment in
violation of the Eighth Amendment if female officers were, as prisoner alleged,
"invited spectators" and the search was carried out in a manner
designed to humiliate and demean him. Federal appeals court rules that
provision of Prison Litigation Reform Act barring claims for mental or
emotional injuries without a showing of physical injury did not apply, in this
case, to bar claims for nominal or punitive damages. Calhoun v. Detella,
#98-2894, 319 F.3d 936 (7th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jun]
Sheriff's policy of conducting strip searches of
all detainees arriving at county jail was "clearly" unconstitutional,
and trial court indicates its opinion that reasonable suspicion of possession
of contraband or weapons was required to conduct such searches on those
suspected of felonies, as well as misdemeanors, but sheriff was entitled to
qualified immunity from liability for such a search on detainee arrested for a felony,
since it was not clearly established, in 1999, that this was a violation of the
detainee's rights. Murcia v. County of Orange, 226 F. Supp. 2d 489 (S.D.N.Y.
2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Officer was entitled to qualified immunity for
conducting warrantless strip searches of five minors at juvenile home suspected
of possession of drugs. Reynolds v. City of Anchorage, 225 F. Supp. 2d 754
(W.D. Ken. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Misdemeanor arrestees were entitled to a
preliminary injunction and class certification in their lawsuit challenging
alleged county practice of routinely strip searching pre-trial detainees even
in the absence of reasonable suspicion that they possessed weapons or other
contraband. Even though the number of strip searches had decreased
"dramatically" since the litigation began, an injunction might help
prevent a return to the "old ways" after the lawsuit was completed.
Dodge v. County of Orange, 209 F.R.D. 65 (S.D.N.Y. 2002). [N/R]
Prisoner was entitled to a new trial on his claim
that a correctional officer violated his rights, since the evidence presented
in the original trial was insufficient to support the jury's conclusion that
the officer relied on permissible facts in deciding to perform a body cavity
search. Lee v. Perez, 175 F. Supp. 2d 673 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). [N/R]
County's concerns about jail security did not
justify its prior policy of searching all city arrestee's without any
individual or class-wide findings of reasonable suspicion, and its amended
policy, under which all city felony arrestees and arrestees held on default
warrants were strip-searched without any regard for any individual
characteristics violated the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the city could be
held liable for the strip-searches of female arrestees at the county jail under
the county's unconstitutional blanket strip search policy, based on the city's
policy of sending only female arrestees to the county jail. Ford v. City of
Boston, 154 F. Supp. 2d 131 (D. Mass. 2001). [N/R]
Individual plaintiff who opted out of class
action over county policy on strip and visual body cavity searches stated a
possible claim for a violation of the Massachusetts state constitution
Declaration of Rights, Article XIV. Ford v. City of Boston, 154 F. Supp. 2d 123
(D. Mass. 2001). [N/R]
Sexual offenders' claim that they were subjected
to visual body cavity searches as retaliation for laughing at officers and
harassed for their status as sex offenders did not warrant injunctive relief.
Prisoners' claim for damages was barred by a provision of the Prison Litigation
Reform Act prohibiting claims for mental or emotional injury without a prior
showing of physical injury. Seaver v. Manduco, 178 F. Supp. 2d 30 (D. Mass.
2002). [2002 JB May]
A prisoner's willful refusal to cooperate with
the court's orders for the discovery of information was a sufficient basis for
the dismissal with prejudice of his lawsuit over allegedly illegal strip
searches performed by correctional personnel, but an assessment of attorneys'
fees against him would have "no practical effect" as he was "in
poverty" and serving a sentence of 25 years to life. Davidson v. Dean, 204
F.R.D. 251 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). [N/R]
Policy of county jail which subjected all
incoming prisoners to strip searches and delousing procedure without any
suspicion of possession of contraband or weapons was unreasonable and county
jail officials were not entitled to qualified immunity. Provision of Prison
Litigation Reform Act prohibiting awards for mental distress without evidence
of physical injury did not apply when plaintiffs were former, as opposed to
current, prisoners. Doan v. Watson, 168 F. Supp. 2d 932 (S.D. Ind. 2001). [2002
County policy requiring strip search of all
detainees sent to county jail violated clearly established law when it did not
require reasonable suspicion that an individual possessed contraband or
weapons. Shain v. Ellison, #00-7061, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 22525 (2nd Cir.).
[2002 JB Jan]
299:174 $6.8 million settlement in lawsuit over
strip searching of female prisoners returning to county jail to retrieve their
possessions after court proceedings during which they were ordered released.
Gary v. Sheahan, No. 96C7294, U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., reported in Chicago
Tribune, July 11, 2001.
297:141 Alleged city policy of strip searching
all detainees placed in a cell awaiting court action was improper, in the
absence of suspicion of possession of weapons or contraband. Gonzalez v. City
of Schenectady, 141 F. Supp. 2d 304 (N.D.N.Y. 2001).
293:78 Rhode Island policies providing for strip
and visual body cavity searches of all males committed to the state prison were
unreasonable, in the absence of individualized reasonable suspicion that
prisoners possessed weapons or contraband. Roberts v. Rhode Island, No. 00-
1752, 239 F.3d 107 (1st Cir. 2001).
293:77 Female DUI detainee was properly strip-
searched twice, once by female deputy upon booking, based on her possession of
a handgun when arrested, and once by a male nurses assistant at the jail
infirmary, based on a medical need to perform an examination of cranial and
pubic hair to combat lice problems in the facility. Skurstenis v. Jones, No.
00-10122, 236 F.3d 678 (11th Cir. 2000).
290:29 Woman arrested for misdemeanor who was
subjected to strip and body cavity searches without any reasonable suspicion
that she possessed weapons or contraband was properly awarded $19,465 in
compensatory damages, but city could not be held liable for the $5 million in
punitive damages that the jury awarded. Ciraolo v. City of N.Y., #99-7550, 216
F.3d 236 (2nd Cir.), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 484 (2000).
EDITOR'S NOTE: On remand to the trial court, it
also awarded the plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and costs of
$19,116.45, reflecting the costs and attorneys' fees incurred before the
defendants made a pre-trial offer of judgment of $25,000 plus reasonable
attorneys fees. This offer was made formally under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 68. Because the plaintiff did not accept it, and was ultimately
awarded a smaller amount of damages ($19,645) after appeal, their right to
recover additional attorneys' fees and costs following that rejection were cut
off. Further, the defendants were awarded $8,038.40 for necessary costs they
incurred after the rejection of their offer. Ciraolo v. City of New York, 2000
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14940 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).
290:30 City was liable for strip search of female
arrestee in custody for violation of municipal code provision prohibiting
possession of an unlicensed dog, since there was no reasonable suspicion that
she possessed weapons or other contraband. Huck v. City of Newburgh, 712
N.Y.S.2d 149 (A.D. 2000).
282:94 Strip searches of Wisconsin prisoner
returning to segregation following disciplinary hearings were supported by
legitimate institutional security concerns; prisoner did not have an
expectation of privacy interest in his body which would support a Fourth
Amendment claim, and there was no evidence that the manner in which the
searches were carried out constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the
8th Amendment. Al Ghashiyah v. McCaughtry, #98-3020, 602 N.W.2d 307 (Wis. App.
277:13 Federal trial court rules that prohibition
of blanket policy of strip searching all arrestees as they entered county jail
regardless of their alleged offense or any reasonable suspicion that they had
weapons or contraband violated clearly established Fourth Amendment rights;
court expresses concern about jail's security problems, but finds that current
appeals court caselaw precludes blanket strip searches despite this issue.
Shain v. Ellison, 53 F. Supp. 2d 564 (E.D.N.Y. 1999).
280:62 Correctional officials were not liable to
female prisoners who were strip searched by female officers with male officers
and staff members present during emergency evacuation of women's correctional
facility because of flooding of nearby creek; no clearly established law
against viewing of unclothed female prisoners by male officers who did not
conduct searches or touch prisoners. Carlin v. Manu, No. 98-372-HU, 72 F. Supp.
2d 1177 (D. Or. 1999).
281:76 Initial strip search of non-felony female
DUI detainee in county jail by female officer was unconstitutional in the
absence of reasonable suspicion of concealment of contraband, but Alabama
sheriff and his employees were entitled to qualified immunity from liability;
examination and touching of detainee's pelvic region as she was left alone with
then unidentified male medical clinic employee in a purported search for lice
just before she was released could not be justified in any way, however.
Skurstenis v. Jones, 81 F. Supp. 2d 1228 (N.D. Ala. 1999).
270:93 Allegation that male prisoner was
subjected to repeated strip and body cavity searches by female officer under
non-emergency conditions while male officers were available to conduct the
search, and that purpose of searches was solely to "harass" and
intimidate him stated non- frivolous claim for Fourth Amendment violation.
Moore v. Carwell, #97-40840, 168 F.3d 234 (5th Cir. 1999).
271:110 Jury awards $5,019,600 to woman strip
searched by N.Y.C. jail guards after her arrest on minor charges; search was
allegedly conducted as part of ten-month policy of searching all, regardless of
reasonable suspicion of possession of weapons, drugs, or other contraband;
class action lawsuit pending on behalf of 63,000 others allegedly strip
searched pursuant to the policy. Ciraolo v. N.Y.C., U.S. Dist. Court, S.D.N.Y.,
May 6, 1999, reported in The New York Times, p. A25, National Edition (May 12,
272:126 Federal jury awards $750,000 in damages
to male-to-female transsexual placed with male prisoners after her arrest and
then strip searched to determine her gender. Schneider v. San Francisco, No.
97-2203, U.S. Dist. Ct. (N.D. Calif. April 16, 1999), reported in The National
Law Journal, p. B5 (May 3, 1999).
245:76 Prison officials were entitled to
qualified immunity from claim that having female guards present during strip
search of male Muslim prisoner, and other incidents in which female guards
observed male prisoner naked, violated First Amendment right to religious
freedom. Canedy v. Boardman, 91 F.3d 30 (7th Cir. 1996).
246:93 Strip searches of inmates following
contact with visitors did not violate their rights; occasional alleged
"degrading" remarks by officers conducting the search and the
presence of other prisoners, also being searched, did not alter the result.
Fernandez v. Rapone, 926 F.Supp. 255 (D. Mass. 1996).
229:11 Roadblock stop of car entering
correctional facility, sniffing of vehicle and occupants by narcotics-detecting
dog, and strip search of female visitor to whom dog alerted were all
reasonable, federal appeals court rules. Romo v. Champion, 46 F.3d 1013 (10th
235:108 While prison officials had reasonable
suspicion sufficient to justify body cavity search of female visitor, based on
informant's statements that a "young" "unrelated female"
visitor to inmate was smuggling in drugs, they could not detain the visitor for
the search in the absence of probable cause, but instead had to allow her the
option of departing and foregoing visit; defendants in visitor's lawsuit were
not entitled to qualified immunity in light of factual disputes. Spear v.
Sowders, 71 F.3d 626 (6th Cir. 1995). [Cross-references: Defenses: Qualified
(Good-Faith) Immunity; Visitation].
235:107 Prisoner's assertion that he was
subjected to a body cavity search in front of 100 people, including female
correctional officers, secretaries, and case managers prompts federal appeals
court to overturn dismissal of his suit charging that his privacy rights were
violated. Hayes v. Marriott, 70 F.3d 1144 (10th Cir. 1995). [Cross-reference:
220:60 Officer's alleged relaying, to warden, of
anonymous tip that visitor was smuggling drugs into prison did not, when
uncorroborated, constitute reasonable suspicion for ordering strip search of
visitor; warden liable for violation of Fourth Amendment rights, federal
appeals court holds. Daugherty v. Campbell, 33 F.3d 554 (6th Cir. 1994).
220:61 "Vague" tip to prison officials
that prisoner was receiving drugs from an "unrelated female" visitor
did not justify strip search and visual and manual body cavity searches of
visitor; prison officials not entitled to qualified immunity for search. Spear
v. Sowders, 33 F.3d 576 (6th Cir. 1994).
223:109 Prison employees not entitled to
qualified immunity for conducting strip search of prison visitor based on
uncorroborated tip from unidentified source concerning drug smuggling. Varrone
v. Bilotti, 867 F.Supp. 1145 (E.D.N.Y. 1994).
223:108 "Brief" presence of female
correctional officer during strip search of male prisoner being transferred
because of information about impending prisoner disturbance did not violate
prisoner's privacy rights; decision to strip search him again before placing
him in segregation at receiving facility was not unreasonable; transfer and
segregation were justified by belief that he was an "instigator" of
feared disturbance. Jones v. Harrison, 864 F.Supp. 166 (D. Kan. 1994).
Prison officials were not entitled to qualified
immunity on prisoner's claim that clerical employees and other bystanders
watched visual body cavity searches of inmates. Canell v. Beyers, 840 F.Supp.
1378 (D. Ore. 1993).
Strip search of allegedly intoxicated female
motorist in protective custody violated Fourth Amendment when conducted without
particularized individual suspicion of possession of contraband or weapons.
Kidd v. Gowen, 829 F.Supp. 16 (D.N.H. 1993).
Federal jury awards $1.45 million to four women
subjected to strip and body cavity searches at county jail after their arrests
for demonstrating at a school board meeting. Morales v. Tully, CV
F-93-5001-SSH, Fed. Dist. Ct. (E.D. Calif. Nov. 15, 1993), reported in The
National Law Journal, p. 11 (Dec. 13, 1993).
Sheriff could not claim qualified immunity for
policy of strip searching all detainees as they entered the jail, including
four women arrested for minor traffic violations. Chapman v. Nichols, 989 F.2d
393 (10th Cir. 1993).
Strip search of female motorist arrested for
driving under the influence of drugs in order to prevent contraband from
entering the jail was reasonable. Cottrell v. Kaysville City, Utah, 801 F.Supp.
572 (D. Utah 1992).
Presence of female guards during a strip search
of a male prisoner following a disturbance did not violate his constitutional
right to privacy. Letcher v. Turner, 968 F.2d 508 (5th Cir. 1992).
Prisoner could assert Fourth Amendment privacy
claim against being strip searched in front of female correctional officers,
but trial court failed to adequately instruct jury that search could be
justified by rational relationship to legitimate penological interest. Cornwell
v. Dahlberg, 963 F.2d 912 (6th Cir. 1992).
Policy of visual strip searches of detainees
arrested for traffic or other minor offenses was clearly unconstitutional;
sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity defense to civil rights lawsuit.
Draper v. Walsh, 790 F.Supp. 1553 (W.D. Okla. 1991). Prison officials were
justified in requiring strip search of inmate's wife before allowing
visitation, where other visitors had complained that she wore jeans with a hole
in the crotch and engaged in "inappropriate sexual behavior" during
visits with her husband. Boren v. Deland, 958 F.2d 987 (10th Cir. 1992).
Visual body cavity search of female visitor
without reasonable suspicion of possession of contraband violated "clearly
established law"; prison warden was not entitled to qualified immunity
from liability. Daugherty v. Campbell, 935 F.2d 780 (6th Cir. 1991).
Visual body cavity search of inmate being
transferred to segregation unit did not violate prisoner's rights. Sanders v.
Heitzkey, 757 F.Supp. 981 (E.D. Wisc. 1991).
State prison regulation giving inmates visitation
rights established due process rights which were violated by conducting
visitors to strip and body cavity searches without probable cause. Long v.
Norris, 929 F.2d 1111 (6th Cir. 1991).
Prison visitor could not be strip searched after
her visit was over; "prison visitor" exception to search warrant
requirement does not apply to search of a person who has completed her visit.
Marriott v. Smith, 931 F.2d 517 (8th Cir. 1991).
Strip searches of male inmate being placed in
temporary administrative segregation was not unconstitutional, nor did presence
of female officer or alleged racial/sexual remark constitute rights violations.
Merritt-Bey v. Salts, 747 F. supp. 536 (E.D. Mo. 1990).
Female officer's visual observation of female
detainee's urination violated clearly established constitutional rights in the
absence of particularized suspicion of possession of contraband or that
detainee might harm herself. DiLereto v. Borough of Oaklyn, 744 F.Supp. 610
Prisoner's Fourth Amendment rights were not
violated by a visual rectal search conducted in a hallway upon returning from
court, despite the fact that he had been handcuffed and under escort while
away. Geder v. Lane, 745 F.Supp. 538 (C.D. Ill. 1990).
Woman allegedly stripped naked, beaten, and
pushed into toilet in cell after arrest for drunken driving awarded $332,000;
man allegedly beaten in same jail awarded $1.1 million. Bryant v. Haverkost,
Vista Cal. Sueprior Court, reported in San Diego, Cal. Tribune, p. B-1 (Sept.
Federal court was without jurisdiction to enjoin
use of mace solely to compel strip searches of inmates; violation of Wisconsin
prison regulations would not show constitutional violation. Colon v. Schneider,
899 F.2d 660 (7th Cir. 1990).
City policy of visual body cavity searches of all
felony arrestees was unconstitutional. Kennedy v. Los Angeles Police
Department, 887 F.2d 920 (9th cir. 1989).
Routine strip searches of prisoners in maximum
security area did not violate constitutional rights, absent allegation of
unreasonable or abusive manner. Langton v. Commissioner of Correction, 533
N.E.2d 1375 (Mass. 1989).
Policy requiring visual strip and body cavity
searches of prisoners in administrative segregation when leaving cells was
constitutional. Rickman v. Avaniti, 854 F.2d 327 (9th Cir. 1988).
Observation of arrestee while she used bathroom
and changed sanitary napkin was reasonable. Wilkes v. Borough of Clayton, 696
F.Supp. 144 (D. N.J. 1988).
Detainee awarded $1 in damages and $4,651 in
attorneys' fees for unlawful strip search. Polk v. Montgomery Co., 689 F.Supp.
556 (D. Md. 1988).
Jail's policy of conducting blanket strip/body
cavity searches on each arrestee brought to jail ruled constitutional. O'Brien
v. Borough of Woodbury Heights, 679 F.Supp. 429 (D.N.J. 1988).
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