(CN) – A case involving the constitutionality of blanket strip-search policies that are enforced against all jail inmates, regardless of the charge they face, was taken up by the Supreme Court on Monday.
There is currently dichotomy among the courts over how to handle cases such as the one presented by Albert Florence who was jailed in Burlington County, N.J., for an outstanding civil contempt warrant. Corrections officers there subjected Florence to a strip search and visual body-cavity search, and Florence underwent another search when the jail transferred him to a facility in Essex County.
The charges against Florence were dismissed the day after this second search, and he filed a federal class action against both jails and several other defendants for constitutional violations. A federal judge granted summary judgment on Florence’s unlawful search claim, but declined to grant an injunction and denied the defendants’ immunity claims.
In reversing summary judgment, a majority of the 3rd Circuit joined the 9th and 11th Circuits in September 2010. The courts concluded that a jail’s security interests outweigh the privacy interests of detainees who ordinarily would not be suspected of concealing contraband.