U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Jailhouse Strip Searches for Minor Offenses

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.

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