A court strip-search decision protects jail employees over criminals in recent U.S. Supreme Court news reported on Monday. In the official vote of 5-4, the Justices said that anyone arrested and taken to a jail in the United States, regardless of the crime, could be strip-searched before being admitted into the jail population.
This is a precautionary action that helps prevent other inmates, as well as jail officers, from being attacked with knives or other weapons smuggled in by new arrestees.
And doesn’t that make a lot of sense? After all, wouldn’t it be kind of dumb to go through the process of arresting someone for breaking a law and then turn around and trust that they will be honest about whether they had a weapon on them or not?
The NY Times reported that the new court strip-search decision also helps prevent drugs from being smuggled into a jail facility, because one part of the strip-search process includes checking people’s body cavities for bags of pills, powder or weed.
People arrested for minor crimes, like a traffic violation, could have drugs on them that they hide on their person to avoid other charges.
If they enter a jail without being strip-searched first they could end up distributing the drugs to other inmates, including those who might die as a result, or become uncontrollable in the jail facility.
In those cases a jail is liable for the incident, since they didn’t prevent the contraband from getting inside. But how can a jail facility be held liable for inmate crimes due to contraband if they don’t also have the power to strip-search every person put in their jail?
That’s why Justice Kennedy wrote that, “Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed.”
One of the greatest threats to officers and inmates in any jail facility, therefore, isn’t a breakout or a riot, as one might think; it is the sneaking in of such dangerous contraband.
The only way to prevent such an occurrence is to thoroughly search every person arrested before putting them into the jail’s population, regardless of which law they broke that led to their arrest.