Monday, April 2, 2012

Supreme Court says presumptively innocent can be strip searched even for minor offenses

Under one guise or another, the presumptively innocent are increasingly treated like convicted felons:

According to the Washington Post: "The case [before the Supreme Court] was brought by Albert Florence, a New Jersey man who said he was subjected to two invasive inspections in 2005 after being mistakenly arrested for not paying a fine.

"A state trooper pulled over Florence’s BMW in 2005 as he and his family were on the way to his mother-in-law’s to celebrate the purchase of their new home. He was handcuffed and arrested in front of his distraught, pregnant wife and young son.

"He spent seven days in jail because of a warrant that said, mistakenly, he was wanted for not paying a court fine. In fact, he had proof that the fine had been paid years earlier; he said he carried it in his glove box because he believed that police were suspicious of black men who drove nice cars.

"Florence was jailed in Burlington County and then Essex County, before a magistrate ordered him released. At Burlington, he said he was forced to disrobe in front of an officer and told to lift his genitals. At Essex, he was strip-searched again, and said he was made to squat and cough in front of others, a maneuver meant to expel anything hidden in a body cavity."

We agree with Justice Stephen G. Breyer's dissenting opinion. Corrections officials should have reasonable suspicion that the person arrested poses a danger before subjecting them to a strip search that is “inherently harmful, humiliating, and degrading.”