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Strip Searches in Jail

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The US Supreme Court today upheld the practice of strip-searching everyone who is arrested and placed in a jail's general population, even when the offense is minor.  The 5-4 decision in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington is here.  The majority opinion by Justice Kennedy acknowledges the indignity but finds no practical alternative.  Jail officials know very little about a person at the time of arrest, and seriousness of the charge has little relation to the probability of possessing contraband.  Given the potentially extreme consequences of allowing contraband, especially weapons, into a jail, it is regrettably necessary.  "Correctional officers have had to confront arrestees concealing knives, scissors, razor blades, glass shards, and other prohibited items on their person, including in their body cavities."

Justice Alito's concurring opinion notes:

It is important to note, however, that the Court does not hold that it is always reasonable to conduct a full strip search of an arrestee whose detention has not been reviewed by a judicial officer and who could be held in available facilities apart from the general population.
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The Court does not address whether it is always reasonable, without regard to the offense or the reason for detention, to strip search an arrestee before the arrestee's detention has been reviewed by a judicial officer. The lead opinion explicitly reserves judgment on that question. See ante, at 18-19. In light of that limitation, I join the opinion of the Court in full.

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Back in the day, of course, jailers could use their discretion in choosing who got strip-search and who did not. But the overlegalization of things means that this can't happen anymore. So now we're left with this.

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