Judge Bars Strip-Searching Defendants In Minor IL Cases


Will County, Il., sheriff’s officials violated the constitutional rights of thousands of people arrested for minor offenses, such as failing to appear in court on a traffic case, by forcing them to submit to strip-searches, says a federal judge’s ruling reported by the Chicago Tribune. Officials argued that they needed to strip-search even small-time arrestees because limited space meant those people would he housed with more serious offenders. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled that jail guards could not strip-search people arrested for minor offenses unless there was some reason to suspect they had drugs, weapons, or other contraband. Strip-searches are “inherently invasive,” Gettleman wrote. “Administrative concerns such as `space constraints’ are not sufficient to justify blanket strip search policies.”

The ruling came in a class action lawsuit involving more than 3,800 people strip searched at the jail since 2001. Plaintiffs in a similar case were awarded about $500 each. In 2001, Cook County, Il., paid $6.8 million to settle claims that guards improperly strip-searched female inmates at the county jail.

Link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0512210216dec21,1,3498396.story?coll=chi-news

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