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Supreme Court Sides With Inmate in Cross-Gender Strip Search Case

"Officials had justified the search because of recent fights and suspicions of contraband in the facility..."

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with an Arizona inmate who claimed that his civil rights were violated when a female cadet searched his genital area and buttocks. The court did not issue any comments on the ruling, though they agreed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that Maricopa County is liable for damages. CNN has more:

Charles Byrd had been arrested in 2004 and held as a pretrial detainee at a minimum-security jail in Phoenix. Corrections officers had ordered a nonemergency search of the entire housing unit, where some 90 inmates were detained. Officials had justified the search because of recent fights and suspicions of contraband in the facility...

Byrd claims the woman cadet -- wearing latex gloves -- conducted a search that lasted about a minute and included squeezing and kneading his private areas. The cadet testified the search lasted 10 to 20 seconds and was conducted in accordance with accepted procedures. The inmate filed a grievance and later a lawsuit, claiming his due process rights and his right against unreasonable searches were violated.

The Christian Science Monitor draws an interesting distinction between this case and the ongoing debate in America over TSA screenings and obtrusive search policies:

The case comes at a time of heightened public awareness of intrusive searches as a condition of air travel, including intimate pat downs and technology capable of simulating a strip search.

With the Supreme Court ruling that Byrd's Fourth Amendment rights were violated, this case could open the door to others like it. What do you think? Is this ruling correct or did the jail have the right to frisk and search the inmate?

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