Police officers now have more leeway to conduct warrantless searches of the 61,000 Tennesseans on probation or parole, reports The Tennessean. A state Supreme Court ruling yesterday said people on probation or parole should not expect the same degree of legal privacy enjoyed by private citizens who have not been convicted of a crime.
The case involved a parolee whose home was searched by police working on a hunch and a tip that she was selling drugs. The court cited a 2005 Tennessee Department of Correction report that found half of Tennesseans on parole in 2000 wound up back in jail within three years. That does not mean they should be subjected to arbitrary or harassing searches, the court said. Justice Sharon Lee, the only dissenter in the 4-1 ruling, said it takes too many rights away from people subject to searches that aren’t based on reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.