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An Update on Jail Strip Searches of General Population Detainees

“In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, decided Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, #10-945, 132 S. Ct. 1510, 2012 U.S. Lexis 2712. It changed the landscape, abandoning a focus on the need for a detailed analysis of the presence or absence of reasonable suspicion to justify the carrying out of a strip search. For the Court’s majority, the focus shifted to a less murky dividing line, based on whether an incoming detainee, regardless of what they are charged with or whether there is reasonable suspicion concerning them, is about to enter the general population of the jail or other detention facility. This article examines the facts and reasoning of that decision in some detail, including both the majority and dissenting approaches. It will also try to briefly spell out what the Court’s decision did not decide, and some of the considerations that may enter into deciding the search policy for a facility in light of the new legal landscape on the subject” (p. 301). Sections of this article include: introduction; facts of the case; Florence majority ruling; dissenting opinion; remaining concerns; and some suggestions.