San Francisco non-violent inmate strip search policy upheld
Court decision overrules a 1984 standard that limited which new inmates could be searched
By Bob Egelko
The San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — San Francisco acted legally in strip-searching thousands of new jail inmates over a 21-month period, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, sparing the city from millions of dollars in potential damages and allowing the sheriff to reinstate a policy he suspended six years ago.
In a 6-5 decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overruled the standard it had set in 1984, which most courts nationwide have since followed: that strip searches are justified only for inmates who are suspected of committing violent or drug-related crimes or of concealing contraband.