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Arrest: You Have the Right to Remain Silent, but Not to Keep your Clothes On

The US Supreme Court recently heard arguments in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, which presents the issue of whether the government can strip search any person admitted to jail, or whether there must be some reason to believe the strip search is necessary to revel hidden items.
Many times, people are brought to jail to be booked for minor offenses, or to sleep off alcohol, then released later on because they are not deemed dangerous enough to be held. How would you feel if as part of that process you were required to get naked in front of a police officer and have your body cavities inspected, to prove no hidden contraband?
In this case, a man was arrested and brought to jail on an outstanding warrant for a violation of a civil contempt order (in another cruel twist of fate, it turns out that he actually had paid his fine). At the jail, he was forced to do a strip search and visual body cavity search. The officers had no reason to believe that he was hiding any sort of weapons or contraband in his body. The Court will determine if these “squat and cough” suspicionless searches are a violation of our 4th Amendment. I sure hope the Court finds in favor of this poor man because I don’t want to be taken to the station and next thing I know I am forced to perform my own rendition of Demi Moore in Striptease.

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DM Cantor

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