In a close 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who are arrested, even for minor offenses, may be strip searched before they are admitted to jail, even if there is no reasonable suspicion they are in possession of drugs, weapons or other contraband. And the case is expected to have implications for black men who are disproportionately stopped by the police.
The case, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, involved Albert Florence -- a black man and a car dealership finance director -- who was arrested by a New Jersey state trooper for a warrant on an unpaid fine. Florence had actually paid the fine.
Over the course of two days, Florence was taken to two jails. In the first jail he was ordered to strip in a shower with a delousing agent, open his mouth and lift his tongue, and lift his genitals. He was subjected to a similarly invasive strip search in the second facility, in the presence of other inmates.
Other plaintiffs in the case were arrested for minor offenses such as walking a dog without a leash, or trespassing during an antiwar demonstration, and were strip searched.