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Appeals Court Rules Cross-Gender Inmate Strip Search as Unconstitutional

prisonThe 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that cross-gender searches among inmates to be unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The case concerns Charles Byrd who claimed that in 2004, he and some fellow inmates in a minimum-security jail in Phoenix, Arizona, became subjects for a strip search during a general inspection for possible weapons and contraband. He believes that his Fourth Amendment right (freedom from unreasonable searches) and his 14th Amendment rights (equal protection and substantive due process) were violated.

It first began when all of the 90 inmates were told to remove all their clothes except their state-issued pink boxers. Byrd and three others were brought to a separate room where cadets from a detention officer training academy searched them while training supervisors watched. Byrd said that a female cadet intentionally “squeezed” and “kneaded” his genitals and buttocks.

“The indignity of the non-emergency strip search conducted by an unidentified female cadet was compounded by the fact that there were onlookers, at least one of whom videotaped the humiliating event,” the San Francisco-based court’s ruling said. “For these reasons, we conclude that the cross-gender strip search, as conducted in this case, was unreasonable.”