(WASHINGTON) — Strip searches will remain a regular part of the jailing process in the U.S. after the conservative majority of the Supreme Court voted five to four on Monday that people can be “required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed” for literally any offense.
In its ruling, the high court determined that the 13 million people admitted to jails annually must submit to a strip search if required, regardless of what crime they’ve allegedly committed, even when there’s no suspicion that they’re carrying contraband such as weapons or drugs.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that courts cannot criticize the policies of corrections officials who have to be concerned with public health and information about gang affiliations in addition to weapons and drugs being possibly smuggled into jails.
The case centered around the 2005 arrest of New Jersey resident Albert W. Florence, who was arrested on an outstanding warrant based on an unpaid fine that, as it turned out, was paid.
Florence was stripped search in two jails in two counties and made to stand naked in front of a guard who told him to move intimate parts of his body. Florence later said, “It was humiliating. It made me feel less than a man.”
Speaking for the dissenting judges, Justice Stephen Breyer of the court’s liberal wing, said strip-searches were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there is cause to do so.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire