Inmate Strip-Searches Were Illegal, Court Says

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit ruled that San Francisco’s blanket policy on strip searching violates inmates’ rights.

     In less than four years, strip searches at San Francisco County Jail No. 9 have uncovered six weapons and 49 items of drug-related contraband.
     The policy of strip searching everyone booked on charges involving drug, weapons or violence was dropped in early 2004.
     However, a class action was filed in 2004 by a group of defendants who were strip searched before entering the general jail population, but were not booked on drug, weapon or violence charges.
     Judge Thomas noted that strip searches must be limited to cases where the police have probable cause to think the defendant is hiding something.
     While there are exceptions to this rule, “the challenged portion of San Francisco’s policy did not consider such individualized factors,” Thomas wrote. “and required strip searches of arrestees based solely on their classification for housing in the general population.”

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