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Published April 02, 2012, 10:13 PM

Supreme Court decision on strip searches could change the way jail operate

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's a decision that could change the way jails operate throughout the country. The Supreme Court ruled this afternoon that anybody arrested and detained in a jail can be strip searched, no matter how minor the offense is.

It's a decision that could change the way jails operate throughout the country. The Supreme Court ruled this afternoon that anybody arrested and detained in a jail can be strip searched, no matter how minor the offense is.

The decision didn't come as a surprise to officials here at the jail. While jailers may have the right to strip search anybody who comes in, here in Cass County, that doesn't mean they will.

Every person who is arrested and taken to Cass County Jail is searched. They are taken into this room and asked to disrobe so deputies can check for contraband. According to Captain Judy Tollefson, full on strip searches are only conducted three-to-four times a month at the jail.

Captain Judy Tollefson – Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy: “We need to articulate why it's necessary and if so, we have no problem with doing it, but just doing it for the sake of doing it is pointless.”

The Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4. Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the majority opinion, saying, "Correctional officials have a legitimate interest, indeed a responsibility, to ensure that jails are not made less secure by reason of what new detainees may carry in on their bodies."

Some people agreed with the high court felt strip searches were an acceptable procedure for anybody whose arrested. More often than not, people felt the ruling had gone too far.

Gregg Boyer – Disagrees With Decsion: “I do not think that should be public policy, we are losing too many of our rights that way.”

While Captain Tollefson acknowledges this ruling can be a tool, it will not be the new standard.

Captain Tollefson: “If somebody comes in on a minor violation and there's no reason to believe or you can't articulate why you would do it, then I don't see us doing it.”

Captain Tollefson says actual invasive cavity searchers are only done by medical professionals in Cass County, and most times they will obtain a search warrant for such searches. For more information on the ruling, and a link to the Supreme Court Judgement follow the Easy Link.

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