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