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Supreme Court OK's Strip Searches in Minor Offenses

Apr 04, 2012 | 9:30 AM    Written By:
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Supreme Court OK's Strip Searches in Minor Offenses

A new ruling is in from the Supreme Court, as they ruled 5-4 on Monday that law enforcement may strip search citizens brought into detainment, no matter the offense. This means that suspects who are brought into custody for murder or speeding makes no difference at all. No reasoning or suspicion has to be present to be subject to a strip search.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy led the court's conservative stance on the topic, writing that the courts hold no right to supersede the judgements of correctional officials.

"Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed."

The new ruling is currently forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and conflicts with many authoritative federal policies. The American Bar Association (ABA) and international human right treaties both ban strip search procedures.

The new judgement does not require strip-searches, but what it does is not prohibit them to any arrestee.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer represented the 4 dissenters and wrote that strip searches were "a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy." It is Justice Breyer's thoughts that the invasive searches should only be used when there is good reason to do so and he went on to add that the Fourth Amendment should be understood to bar strip-searches of people arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence, unless officials had a reasonable suspicion that they were carrying contraband.

Breyer further opposed the majority with key examples such as a nun that was strip searched after an arrest for trespassing.

Appeals courts in Atlanta, San Francisco and Philadelphia welcomes the new ruling as they already allow strip-searches of everyone admitted into a jail's general population.

Justice Kennedy sided with the majority defended his position by adding that "people detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals." He mentioned that Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was first arrested for driving without a license plate. "One of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93".

The case that brought this issue up was decided on Monday in Florence v. County of Burlington, No. 10-945

Albert W. Florence was a passenger in his BMW when his wife was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding in New Jersey in 2005.

Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in Burlington and Essex Counties, and he was strip-searched in each. 

"I consider myself a man's man," said Mr. Florence, a finance executive for a car dealership. "Six-three. Big guy. It was humiliating. It made me feel less than a man."

Justice Kennedy and the majority proclaim that the ruling will more accurately detect contraband however in a recent study of 23,000 people admitted to a correctional facility in Orange County, N.Y., using that standard, there was at most one instance of contraband detected that would not otherwise have been found, according to Justice Breyer.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Justice Breyer's dissent.

Source: bossip.com

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