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Nothing to Hide

© Tom Tomorrow

Yes, the Supreme Court really did rule that it was ok for jails to use routine strip searches, even for people arrested for minor traffic violations. Why should we be afraid of body cavity searches if we have nothing to hide?



  1. rk wrote:

    This came about when a bicyclist in New Jersey was arrested for not having a bell on his bike. And he was strip searched.

    Friday, April 20, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  2. Arthanyel wrote:

    The problem in our (or any) legal system is properly specifying “appropriateness”. That’s why we have lawyers – if the details are not clear, they argue their client is not required to do anything because it isn’t clear. If the details are specific, the lawyers argue that their client’s specific case is not detailed and therefore they are not required to do anything.

    Our legal system (and it isn’t a justice system) does not handle matters of degree. We can see this with many examples – Citizen’s United is one, clearly it is inappropriate to prevent a business from making ANY political contributions of any kind, but it is a disaster to allow them to make UNLIMITED ones. Or look at the House Republican’s business tax cut bill they just passed – aimed at “small business, less than 500 employees” ignoring that nearly all hedge funds, venture capitalists, etc. work for “small business”.

    In this example (strip searching) it is clear that SOME people that are arrested and being taken to SOME locations MAY need to be strip searched for the safety of the officers and fellow inmates. Many of the most dangerous homicidal maniacs have been originally arrested for traffic violations and the like, and only later are they found to be wanted for something serious.

    So if the global question is “should it be ALLOWABLE for an officer to strip search an arrested person” then the answer has to be yes – because SOME arrested people have to be searched. But that doesn’t mean a bike rider without a bell should be strip searched. Unfortunately when you leave things to the “discretion of the parties” then some of them have bad discretion.

    Friday, April 20, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink
  3. Michael wrote:

    It was interesting reading some of the comments on the NY Times article. Superficially, I agree with the ruling. If someone is going to be arrested and put into the general prison population, I think it would be reasonable for potentially invasive searches.

    The bigger question, to me, is why the hell are we putting people into the general prison population for absurdly trivial things? For instance, some of the cases were for driving without a license, violating a leash law, or an incorrect accusation of failure to pay a fine (the warrant was wrong…the fine had been paid).

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but I’ve always had the understanding that there were different facilities for different levels of crime. For instance, you might have a small set of cells that serve as the drunk tank, and the people put in there are not going into the same holding facility as someone serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery.

    So it seems to me that the solution is to have tighter regulation regarding what offenses can result in release into the general prison population. There needs to be a distinction between short-term detention for minor offenses (separate from the general population, and hence no invasive search), and higher security areas. I thought there was a distinction, but it seems not to be the case.

    Friday, April 20, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  4. Beauzeaux wrote:

    ” I’ve always had the understanding that there were different facilities for different levels of crime.”

    You’re incorrect. There are separate facilities for juveniles and hospitals for the criminally insane but everyone else gets tossed into the same pot.

    Friday, April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  5. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Michael- In some localities there are such separate facilities. In my state they have such “holding areas” until they alledged criminal makes an initial appearance before a judge. The federal system I’ve seen works the same. In most cases (I can’t say in 100%) persons awaiting trial or sentencing are kept in detention centers. If they are convicted and sentenced to time, then they are sent to general population.
    Arthanyel – your exactly right on discretion and since there are people running the show people screw up. We can use the TSA as a prime example of discretion run a muck.

    Friday, April 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink