U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Jailhouse Strip Searches for Minor Offenses
Posted Apr 5, 2011 9:48 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether prison officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a wrongly arrested New Jersey man who was strip searched after a traffic stop.
The court granted cert on Monday in the appeal by Albert Florence, whose troubles began during a March 2005 traffic stop for speeding, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Florence’s wife was driving the car and he was a passenger.
Police arrested Albert Florence, who is African American, on an outstanding warrant for an unpaid fine for a traffic offense, even though he had a document with him showing it had been paid. The New York Times highlighted his case in a story last month.
According to the cert petition (PDF), the issue is whether the Fourth Amendment permits a jail to conduct a suspicionless strip search of every individual arrested for any minor offense. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled for jails in two different counties, which had conducted the strip searches and held Florence for seven days before his release.