Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2012
What does the Supreme Court ruling on strip searches mean for Oklahomans? First the ruling:
In a front-page article, the New York Times reports that,
“Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials.”
The decision is contrary to at least 10 states’ laws; federal policies; and, according to the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties. “The majority and dissenting opinions drew differing conclusions from the available information about the amount of contraband introduced into jails and how much strip-searches add to pat-downs and metal detectors,” with Justice Stephen Breyer writing in his dissent “that there was very little empirical support for the idea that strip-searches detect contraband that would not have been found had jail officials used less intrusive means, particularly if strip-searches were allowed when officials had a reasonable suspicion that they would find something. Story here: Supreme Court Ruling Allows Strip-Searches For Any Arrest
Jailers are now immune under federal law against suits for any strip search of any person for any reason so long as that person will be placed in general population housing.
But what about state law? Does Oklahoma law protect you against a strip search? In a word, no. Oklahoma has granted jailers blanket immunity for anything that happens within the four walls of a jail facility.
Unless Oklahoma legislators revise the law, Oklahomas accused of petty offenses will be subject to invasive strip searches at the whim of a jailer.
The ruling also raises substantial questions about cross-gender searches, searches of minors, and even photographing arrestees under the pretext of due process and preservation of evidence.