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U.S. Supreme Court Justifies Jail Strip-Searches

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 6:08pm

EL PASO - A controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing strip-searches to take place a lot more easily. Even minor crimes like speeding could now have you stripping down inside of the county jail.

The courts opinion is concerning to a lot of people, including members of the Paso Del Norte Civil Rights group.

"I think it's a very powerful tool for an ever expanding police state," Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Attorney Amin Alehashem said.

The Supreme Court ruling is meant to protect inmates and jail staff, but some believe it's just stripping our Fourth Amendment Right against unreasonable searches.

"I think in these instances where you have a seat belt offense or just a minor traffic offense to be subjected to the horror of having people search every cavity of your body, I think, is unconscionable," Alehashem said. " It's something everyone should be concerned about."

The Dona Ana County Jail does not require detainees to be strip searched, but a county spokesman says they're reviewing their policy in light of the ruling.

"If this does happen to you, it doesn't mean it's always constitutional," Alehashem said.

The Supreme Court ruled the strip-search reasonable in a 5-to-4 vote, and in the opinion they didn't completely brush off the Fourth Amendment. The court says if a detainee could be housed separately from the general population a strip-search could still be considered unconstitutional.

Find out what strip-search policies are in place at the El Paso County Detention Center and if they're reviewing their policies in light of the supreme courts ruling tonight on Local 4 News at 10pm.

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