Supreme Court Says You Can Be Strip Searched When Admitted To Jails For Any Offense

from the what-4th-amendment dept

The Supreme Court continues to chip away at whatever is left of the 4th Amendment. A ruling on Monday (with a close 5 to 4 vote) decided that jails can strip search those enrolled for pretty much any offense. However, the reasoning behind this was very suspect. In this case, it was a man who was mistakenly arrested (there was an erroneous warrant out for a fine which he had already paid).

The majority opinion, by Justice Kennedy, basically argues (1) that jails are really dangerous, so we have to search everyone and (2) that some bad people might be arrested for other things, and a strip search might find them out. Neither argument makes much sense when you think about it. As Amy Davidson writes at the New Yorker link above, if jails are so dangerous, why are we sending so many people there? Shouldn't we be working on that part? And as for the other part:
He mentions that one of the 9/11 hijackers got a speeding ticket, though not how strip-searching him might have stopped the attacks, or how many millions of speeders you need to sort through to find a terrorist. Never mind, Kennedy writes: “People detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.”
And thus, let's strip search everyone!

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  1. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 3 Apr 2012 @ 11:33am

    Searches

    I'm with the Court on this one. If you've been validly and legally taken to jail, then you can be searched. Thoroughly.

    Having spent many years taking people to jails and working in and around them, it's no joke when someone suddenly produces a weapon from somewhere on their person and you don't have one. Jails and prisons are the one place where law enforcement officers don't have weapons of their own to defend themselves.

    Just because you're arrested for a minor traffic warrant doesn't mean you're a complete angel but for speeding. The police have a duty to make the jails as safe as possible for everyone and if that means you get searched when you go in, so be it.

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

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