Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

AELE Monthly Law Journal

  • 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.

  • Workplace Harassment by Law Enforcement and Correctional Supervisors: Part 1--Sexual Harassment [and] Part 2--Racial and Other Forms of Harassment

    "Protecting employees against workplace harassment is an important obligation of law enforcement and correctional agencies as employers. Harassment is a corrosive element in an agency’s functioning, can undermine morale, and unfairly subjects hard-working employees to daily torments that add to the burdens and responsibilities that they have to cope with to effectively do their job. Additionally, as has long been clear, workplace harassment on the basis of sex or race, as well as other protected categories, is illegal and can lead to lawsuits and substantial damage awards" (p. 201). Employer liability resulting from sexual harassment perpetrated by a supervisor is explained. Part 1 addresses: harassment as in general by a supervisor; Supreme Court definition of a supervisor; quid pro quo sexual harassment; hostile environment; and same sex and sexual orientation harassment. Part 2 covers: racial harassment; other forms of harassment; suggestions to consider; and additional resources for information.

  • Prisoner Classification and Gang Activity

    This article provides a brief but very informative explanation of how courts rule on cases involving custodial risk levels based on the previous gang activity of the prisoner. Sections cover: issue introduction; classifying gang members; Michigan’s Security Threat Group (STG); quantum of evidence; due process; and failure to classify

  • Civil Liability for the Use of Neck Restraints

    Neck restraints are a valuable but sometimes still controversial procedure for the use of force by police officers and correctional personnel ... It is a procedure that is useful when police or correctional officers are in close proximity with suspects or prisoners. While it can be very effective, it requires motor skills training, and attempts at such holds without proper training can turn an improperly applied hold into an air choke. This is especially the case when a subject attempts to resist the hold, such as by attempting to turn around, inadvertently putting pressure on their airway when none was intended ... Improperly applied neck restraints that turn into choke holds and restrict the intake of breath can and have in some instances resulted in tragic consequences including death or permanent disability” (p. 101-102). This two-part article looks at the liability issues related to neck restraint use. It is comprised of the following sections: introduction; the U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding “City of Los Angeles v. Lyons” and aftermath; subsequent law enforcement cases; neck restraints in correctional settings; the 2007 study by the Canadian Police Research Centre; and suggestions to consider.

  • Civil Liability for the Use of Pepper Spray (OC), Tear Gas, and Chemical Agents, Part 1 [and] Part 2

    This article is an excellent resource for those who want a basic understanding of those civil issues impacting the use of pepper spray and other chemical agents by law enforcement and correctional officers. "Pepper Spray (OC) and other chemical weapons are intended and designed to be used as disabling agents, for law enforcement officers and correctional personnel to use to attempt to overcome resistance, and to subdue persons with minimal injuries to officers, arrestees and others. Chemical weapons can be used in situations in which a disturbance involves a number of people, but they also are effective against an actively resisting individual. This is not a technical article, and it does not survey the wide variety of specific chemical weapons available to law enforcement and correctional personnel, or to assess their pros and cons. Rather, the focus is to briefly look at how courts have discussed their use in the context of civil lawsuits for excessive force" (Part 1, p. 101). Sections of this article include: introduction; use by law enforcement, use on handcuffed persons; warnings; crowds and bystanders; the aftermath of their use; New Orleans Consent Decree; correctional settings; and suggestions to consider.

  • Civil Liability for Inadequate Prisoner Medical Care: Eye and Vision Related

    "Jails and prisons are constitutionally mandated to provide adequate medical care to those in their care, since prisoners and detainees cannot seek medical treatment on their own. Deliberate indifference to the need for treatment of a known serious medical problem can result in civil liability. A number of cases have made it clear that included in this requirement is treatment for eye and vision problems" (p. 1). This article looks at the case law related to the mandated provision of eye and vision care. Sections cover: cataracts; glaucoma; the impact of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer ion eyes and vision and the need for treatment; other medical conditions; physical injury; self-injury; eye and vision specialists; and seven recommendations.

  • Civil Liability for Use of Distraction Devices Part 1 [and] Part 2

    Distraction devices (such as flashbangs) are especially useful when "correctional personnel are dealing with unruly prisoners or detainees who must be brought under control or extracted from their cells in a safe and controlled manner ... Such devices must be properly used by adequately trained personnel, skilled in both legal aspects and practical tactical considerations surrounding their intelligent deployment. Their deployment is a use of force. Although non-lethal in most instances, improper use can result in injury to both members of the public and officers themselves" (p. 1). The use of distraction devices and civil lawsuits associated with them are discussed. Sections of this series include: introduction; use in a home or building entry; use in correctional settings; use in street settings; damage awards; injuries to officers; and some suggestions worth considering.

  • Prisoners, Parolees, Sex Offenders, Computers, and the Internet

    This two-part series discussing issues and developments in the use of information technologies by inmates and offenders in the community. Part 1 looks at: the problems in general; access to computers; information from the internet; and the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) used by federal prisons. Part 2 looks at supervised Internet access; cell phones and the Internet; parolees and the Internet; sex offenders and the Internet; and some suggestions for allowing limited electronic communication and Internet access.

  • Rights of Rastafarian Employees and Inmates

    "Rastafarians are named after Ras (Prince) Tafari, Selassie’s title before being crowned Emperor in 1930. The movement later was influenced by Jamaicans. There are estimates that there are as many as one million adherents to the religion worldwide. In the U.S., most adherents are African-Americans. Rastafarians engage in the spiritual use of cannabis, wear their hair in dreadlocks and are generally opposed to cutting their hair. The Ital vegetarian diet is one of the main tenets of the Rastafari movement. Those who adhere to it abstain from all meat and flesh whatsoever, asserting that to touch meat is to touch death. Some Rastafarians, however, do eat some meat nevertheless, but no pork or shellfish" (p. 201). This article covers legal issues associated with Rastafarian staff and inmates and provides suggestions for addressing these challenges. Sections of this publication include: introduction; Rastafarian employees; Rastafarian inmates; and suggestions to consider.