High court looks at routine strip searches in jail

October 12, 2011 - 10:55 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is grappling with the question of whether jailers need a reason to suspect someone may be hiding a weapon or drugs before subjecting the person to an invasive strip search.

The court on Wednesday heard arguments concerning just how close jail guards can get to inmates who forced to undress and shower — and how thorough those searches can be. The issues arose in the case of Albert Florence, who was arrested on a warrant for an unpaid traffic fine and strip-searched in two county jails.

Corrections and the Obama administration back a policy that allows close searches of anyone entering the general jail population. Lawyers for Florence argue that while people brought in on minor charges can be asked to disrobe and shower while being watched at a distance, they should not have to submit to a more thorough search without reason.