Civil Rights, Discrimination, Hate Crimes

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Question: can the cops strip search a person when booked into county jail

Answer:

This answer assumes that the person is a pre-arraignment detainee. In other words, the person is arrested, booked into jail, has not been arraigned or sentenced for a crime. The answer to your question depends upon a number of individual factors about the person and the situation.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects persons from unreasonable searches by the government. In determining whether a strip search of a person in jail is reasonable, "a court must balance 'the need for the particular search against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails.'" Bull v. City and County of San Francisco, 539 F.3d 1194, 1197 (9th Cir.2008) (citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559, 99 S. Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979)). Additionally, the “court ‘must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted, the justification for initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.’” Id.

To determine whether a search is permissible under the law, the police must consider individual factors such as a person’s criminal history, charges, and suspicious behavior. Bull, 539 F.3d at 1199. The officer considers whether the offense for which a person is arrested involves illegal drugs, weapons, violence or a violation of probation or parole. Id. at 1202.  The person's actions may also create a reasonable suspicion that he or she is carrying concealed weapons or contraband warranting a strip search. Id. at 1196.

In Arizona, police officials must balance the need for the specific strip search against the invasion it involves.

Blanket strip searches of pre-arraignment detainees, regardless of the severity of the crimes of which they are accused and without individualized reasonable suspicion to justify the search, violate their constitutional rights. Id. at 1199.

Strip searches of pre-arraignment arrestees based solely on the fact that they will be housed in the general jail population are unconstitutional. Id. at 1200. It can be one of the factors, but not the only factor for the search. Id. at 1200. (Citing Thompson v. City of Los Angeles, 885 F2d 1439, 1447 (9th Cir.1989).

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