University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Blanket strip search policy upheld by U.S. Supreme Court; reason for arrest immaterial
May 1, 2012
In Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington, the Supreme Court has ruled that jails act reasonably under the Fourth Amendment when they require all new arrestees to be strip searched by deputies, regardless of the reason for arrest. This was the approach taken in the 3d and 9th Circuit courts; the other federal Courts of Appeals had answered this question the other way, finding that the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches limited strip searches to cases involving violent or drug offenses, or in which there is individualized reason to suspect the arrestee of possessing contraband.

The Clearinghouse has a large collection of class and individual actions alleging unreasonable jail strip searches, many of which had resulted in large money settlements for plaintiffs, as a group. For those cases with injunctive components, presumably the covered jails may now be considering whether to seek amendment of the injunctions.

Relevant case(s) include: