The Ninth Circuit of Appeals reversed a prior decision, holding that mandatory strip searches for all incoming inmates were justified. The court reasoned that jail officials deserve deference and that there was documented evidence of a severe contraband smuggling problem.
In 1984, the 9th Circuit set the precedent for the majority of the country, holding that strip searches are only justified for inmates who were committed drug-related or violent crimes, or were suspected of concealing contraband.
Starting in 2002, a San Francisco sheriff ordered mandatory searches of all incoming inmates. That procedure lasted for 21 months until 2004. In 2005, a federal judge ruled the practice was unconstitutional, and the city appealed, resulting in 9th Circuit’s reversal. It is unclear whether the policy will be reinstated, or whether other states and cities will follow suit.
S.F.’s jail strip-search policy ruled OK | San Francisco Chronicle