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Supreme Court Upholds Jail Strip Searches

April 02, 2012  | 

Photo: POLICE file
Photo: POLICE file

Corrections personnel may perform a routine strip search on any person arrested or detained before admitting them to a jail, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The search may only be a visual inspection without touching or abusive gestures. The prisoner may be told to manipulate some part of the body, according to the 5-4 ruling in Florence v. Board of Freeholders.

In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess corrections officials who must worry about contraband weapons and drugs as well as gang affiliation that can be determined be viewing an inmate's tattoos.

The ruling was a defeat for the liberal wing of the court that included Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who wrote the minority opinion.

"A strip search that involves a stranger peering without consent at a naked individual, and in particular at the most private portions of that person's body, is a serious invasion of privacy," Breyer wrote.

Read the full opinion here.

By Paul Clinton

Related:

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Legality of Strip Searches

Tags: U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Strip Searches, Search and Seizure, Fourth Amendment


Comments (16)

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16

Dr. Leonard Mather, PhD @ 4/2/2012 6:36 PM

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are NOT going to like this ruling. After all, it helps LEOS and it stops criminal behavior. Those two Self Appointed Pundits will call that a violation of civil liberties. The ACLU will quickly take action in their behalf because it is their source of clientele giving them a name and a history. Like a game of chess, the Muslims are already using the ACLU for getting Sharia Law established. Studying Sun Tzu's Art of War is called for. He said, "You must know your enemy better than he knows you; if not, you will lose and he will win."

Searcher5 @ 4/2/2012 7:10 PM

I can't disagree with anything you stated. Sun Tzu was a pretty sharp individual.

Tschako @ 4/2/2012 8:08 PM

The best way to avoid the degrading indignity of a strip search is to simply not get arrested. I'm surprised it was a 5-4 decision; it's a no-brainer, even for liberals,(or does that say something about liberals?).

MikeAT @ 4/2/2012 8:54 PM

@Tschako
Yes it does say something about liberals in general and liberal judges in particular. They are morons.

George @ 4/2/2012 9:08 PM

Come on now, you shouldn't call liberals and liberal justices morons. That is just really unfair to real morons to lower them to the level of liberals and liberal justices.

Random @ 4/3/2012 12:27 AM

Good decision. Without this kind of search, a prisoner would no longer be arming themselves with improvised weapons. They would just bring the equalizer in natures pocket.

Lou T @ 4/3/2012 4:28 AM

I concur with Tschako, a 5 - 4 decision? And Beyer really dissented by stating that his concern is for the dignity of the perp (alleged) than the safety of LEOS and others in the facility? It makes me really fearful that 4 SC justices voted against this. Maybe they should put in a few weeks in a faciltiy and see how they feel afterwards.

Trigger @ 4/3/2012 6:45 AM

It's amazing what can be hidden in and on the human body. Good decision from the Justices. If you have not read the entire ruling take a few minutes, I find it interesting to read the discenting opinion.

Bradford @ 4/3/2012 8:06 AM

Maybe these justices should come to our Jail here in Wichita where we have had females with .25 caliber semi autos stuffed up their vaginal areas or smuggle in $2500 plus in cash, or dime bags of marijuana, 1/2 oz of coke or a couple of 8 balls. Males that have smuggled in drugs, folding knives, handcuff keys, etc. It is amazing how much stuff can actually be stuffed up various human body cavities. The Detention folks have now gone to full body scanners, but even they miss things at times.

John Weismiller @ 4/3/2012 10:12 AM

The liberal Supreme Court Justices are idiots living in a dream world and out of touch with society for years. And what's really scary is that if Obama is re-elected, he will almost certainly appoint one or two starry-eyed liberals to the bench. If that happens, their liberal droolings will make our Constitution unrecognizable.

ROB ROY SELF @ 4/3/2012 12:30 PM

This ruling show's again that we only have 5 real judge's on the Supreme court. Did the 4 idiot's that thought privacy was more important than the safety of the Deputy's, the jail, and other inmate's, eat too many paint chip's as children. This level of incompetency just leave's me stunned.

Dan @ 4/4/2012 9:44 AM

Bradford: You are exactly right. They could go to any jail, any size and see varying degrees of the same behavior. It's about time that a majority realized that. I've had this discussion with our state law enforcement academy instructors.

and to Rob Roy Self, if you have ever heard of the Peter Principle, this shows you it applies to the judiciary, as well.

Rooster @ 4/4/2012 2:31 PM

Arrested no problem. Detained?? A little broad. When I went to a prison to talk to a prisoner I emptied my pockets except for ID, went through a metal detector, was detained, told to remove my shoes, wiggle my tongue a certain way, and frisked. If I put up with that "detainment" I would have waited for a school bus and driven to a "facility" ushered to a room similar to a cafeteria and the prisoner brought to me. What actually happened was that I told the CO that if he thought he was going to lay a hand on me I was going to defend myself from assault and deck him.

Maybe the actual ruling was more specific. Detained? That could be on the street during a field interview, a trip to the station (cuffed) in the cruiser, placement in a holding cell (no bars, just a room with a solid metal, lockable door) or??????? Is the decision available online for reading???

michael @ 4/4/2012 5:39 PM

Well the only thing I can say is,............bend over boys and cough hard.

Rev. Lowrey @ 4/11/2012 3:58 PM

Yes Rooster,
Thank you for the first sane comment on this post.
I'm sure that when "Sun Tzu's Art of War ...said, "You must know your enemy better than he knows you", he did not mean you should begging the court to let you look up his butt.
Everything I've read says that most jail contraband (drugs, cellphones) are supplied by the cops, not visitors.
All you butt-hungry guys need to find a better way to satisfy your unnatural desires.
If you applied the golden rule, would you want that kind of treatment for any simple (supposed) offense?
I suppose Jesus is just another of the "liberal morons" you refer to.
No wonder you get no respect from the "people" who employ you and who's rights you are committed to defend - not offend.

Dan B. @ 6/20/2012 6:55 AM

To Rev. Lowrey, ARE YOU FOR REAL? Give me a break. Your rant makes you sound like an idiot.

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