Spreading freedom one strip search at a time

Spreading freedom

by digby

So, I guess all Americans should be prepared to be strip searched if they happen to find themselves in custody, no matter what the charge or (lack of) evidence of criminal behavior:

The Supreme Court case arose from the arrest of Albert W. Florence in New Jersey in 2005. Mr. Florence was in the passenger seat of his BMW when a state trooper pulled his wife, April, over for speeding. A records search revealed an outstanding warrant based on an unpaid fine. (The information was wrong; the fine had been paid.)

Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in two counties, and he was strip-searched twice. There is some dispute about the details but general agreement that he was made to stand naked in front of a guard who required him to move intimate parts of his body. The guards did not touch him.

“Turn around,” Mr. Florence, in an interview last year, recalled being told by jail officials. “Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.”

The great moderate "swing" Justice,Anthony Kennedy, who apparently believes that everyone who is taken into custody is potentially a serial killer, said;

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations.

About 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails, Justice Kennedy wrote.

Under Monday’s ruling, he wrote, "every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed."

Well at least they didn't make cavity searches mandatory, although I can't think why they wouldn't. If it's important for police to have the ability to make suspects who are arrested on a warrant for an unpaid fine strip and "spread their cheeks", it's hard to see what the logic would be in denying them the ability to feel around. After all, he could have had a deadly weapon stashed way up in there.

This is punitive, anyone can see that. They are "breaking down" suspects with humiliation to make them docile and afraid. There is no reason to grant the police blanket permission to do this except for a naive belief that anyone who is arrested must be guilty of something.

This by the way, is a perfect illustration of modern conservatism's definition of freedom. As per the previous post, they believe it is fundamental to liberty that property and wealth be protected from government coercion. But the police powers of the state easily extend to forcing individuals who are suspected of nothing more than failing to pay a fine to get naked and spread their cheeks for a policeman.

The majority of the court, by the way, also thinks actual evidence of innocence is irrelevant in death penalty cases. They are living in another dimension.