The American Civil Liberties Union has joined two lawsuits against the Saginaw County, Mi., Jail over a policy of stripping rowdy detainees and keeping them naked in solitary confinement, the Associated Press reports. A federal judge has ruled in one of the cases that the policy is unconstitutional, but he has yet to award damages. The two cases could be certified as a class action. Lawyers estimate the total of plaintiffs could number about 200.
Saginaw County Sheriff Charles Brown defended the policy as an effort to balance inmate safety with privacy rights. He said the practice was discontinued in 2001 or 2002 — something the plaintiffs’ lawyers and the ACLU dispute. Amanda White, one of the plaintiffs, said male guards at the jail undressed her and left her in an area called the hole when she was detained on a drunken driving charge four years ago. White said she sat in a cell for hours, naked and bleeding. Brown defended his guards as professionals and said the policy of started after an inmate hanged himself with his uniform.