Hundreds of people arrested on minor offenses were routinely strip-searched at the Seminole County Jail in Sanford, Fl., in violation of jail policy and state law, says the Orlando Sentinel. A report issued yestrday described a pervasive practice among jailers to strip-search everyone sent to jail from the courthouse. Sloppy record keeping and little or no supervision led to what one official called a “policy of failure.”
The practice came to light after a judge had 11 people arrested for being late to traffic court in December. The 11, who had been directed to the wrong courtroom, were handcuffed, hauled off to jail and then strip-searched. People were forced to strip and show jailers that they had no contraband in their mouths, hair, or elsewhere on their bodies. State law prohibits strip searches for traffic, regulatory, or misdemeanor offenses, unless they involve violence, a weapon, or drugs. Three of the five women in the traffic case have filed complaints signaling their intent to sue the sheriff in federal court.