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Supreme Court: If You’re Arrested, You Should Be Strip Searched

April 2, 2012 by  

Supreme Court: If You’re Arrested, You Should Be Strip Searched
PHOTOS.COM
The Supreme Court ruled that anyone arrested is subject to strip search.

As bureaucracy in the United States grows, it is becoming harder and harder to avoid a run-in with law enforcement because of some minor infraction; due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, you will likely be strip searched if you do have one.

The Nation’s highest court ruled on Monday by a 5-4 vote that law enforcement officials may strip search any individual who is arrested, regardless of criminal record or severity of offense.

The Justices opined that courts are in no position to scrutinize the judgments of correctional officials who must consider the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs, identify public health issues and try to collect information about gang affiliations of individuals who are booked.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said it would be “unworkable” to make an exception for people who are arrested for minor offenses because county jails often must process hundreds of new inmates a day.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Albert Florence, who was arrested by mistake in 2005 because of a bench warrant issued for a fine he had paid years earlier. Despite having documentation of compliance with the court, a New Jersey state trooper arrested Florence during a routine traffic stop as his wife and child watched. Florence then spent seven days in jail. Florence was reportedly strip searched at two separate jails, despite there being no evidence that he had any contraband or violent behaviors. Florence sued and was granted a summary judgment, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Vigilant

    Mr. Rolley furnishes us, once again, with an agenda-based headline.

    Take an English course, sir. There’s a big difference between “may” and “should.”

    • Vicki

      I noticed that too. The Supreme Court just said that police COULD strip search us. Not that they should do so.

    • http://boblivingstonpl.wordpress.com Bob Livingston

      Dear Vigilant,

      I might suggest you read the court’s opinion, which states:
      Officials therefore must screen for contagious infections and for wounds or injuries requiring immediate medical attention. It may be difficult to identify and treat medical problems until detainees remove their clothes for a visual inspection… Additionally, correctional officials have to detect weapons, drugs, alcohol, and other prohibited items new detainees may possess. (emphasis mine)

      On their face, those words indicate inspection is necessary (should occur). Merriam-Webster includes in its definition of “should,” the past tense of “shall,” the following: “4—used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected.”

      Agenda-based headline? Hardly. Is yours an agenda-based comment?

      Best wishes,
      Bob

      • Vigilant

        I might suggest you read the FULL Court’s opinion, which you have apparently not found it convenient to do.

        “Must screen” does not mean “shall or should” strip-search. As for Rolley’s inaccurate headline, he better change his second paragraph (which happens to be correct) if he expects it to conform with the headline.

        JUSTICE ALITO, concurring.

        “I join the opinion of the Court but emphasize the limits of today’s holding. The Court holds that jail administrators may require all arrestees who are committed to the general population of a jail to undergo visual strip searches not involving physical contact by correction sofficers. To perform the searches, officers may direct the arrestees to disrobe, shower, and submit to a visual inspection. As part of the inspection, the arrestees may be required to manipulate their bodies…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. Most of those arrested for minor offenses are not dangerous, and most are released from custody prior to or at the time of their initial appearance before a magistrate. In some cases, the charges are dropped. In others, arrestees are released either on their own recognizance or on minimal bail. In the end, few are sentenced to incarceration. For these persons, admission to the general jail population, with the concomitant humiliation of a strip search, may not be reasonable, particularly if an alternative procedure is feasible.”

        “In its amicus brief, the United States informs us that, according to BOP policy, prison and jail officials cannot subject persons arrested for misdemeanor or civil contempt offenses to visual body-cavity searches without their consent or without reasonable suspicion that they are concealing contraband.”

        Those words, sir are a far cry from the SCOTUS issuing an edict or even a recommendation.

      • Vigilant

        What many readers do not realize is that SCOTUS justices do not hear a case and then go to a dog-eared copy of the Constitution. They base their decisions on a whole body of case law and findings.

        It is rare that the SCOTUS will break new ground. They broke no new ground here. A whole slew of cases is cited in the majority opinions rendered. Those cases substantiated the majority opinion, and were found to be intact and Constitutional.

        Mr. Livingston asks if my comment is agenda-based. I can only answer, “you bet it is!” I have seen the minority opinion justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan demonstrate their contempt for the Constitution on more than one occasion. They are violators of the oath of office and I do not trust ONE opinion of theirs.

        Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia are what the Founders intended when they established the Supreme Court, i.e., justices who would render their decisions in view of, and SOLELY in accordance with, the Constitution. I have unbounded respect for these justices, and I am completely confident that their rulings are impeccably correct.

        That is the reason I took issue with Mr. Rolley’s misleading headline, and I have seen no reason to change my opinion. The SCOTUS is not in business to tell anyone they “should” do or not do something. That would not be a legal decision, it would be expression of a very non-binding opinion.

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