Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision allowing strip searches of jail inmates suspected of minor offenses endorsed a procedure banned in at least 10 states and at odds with the policies of federal authorities, says the New York Times. The American Bar Association says that international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.
Federal appeals courts had been split on the question, though most of them prohibited strip-searches unless they were based on a reasonable suspicion that contraband was present. The Supreme Court did not say that strip-searches of every new arrestee were required; it ruled, rather, that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches did not forbid them. Daron Hall, the president of the American Correctional Association and sheriff of Davidson County, Tn., said the association welcomed the flexibility offered by the decision. The association's standards discourage blanket strip-search policies.