Why should we care about the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing strip & cavity searches of prisoners?
Summary: We should care about the Court’s ruling allowing almost unlimited use of strip searches of prisoners. It gives a powerful additional tool allowing police to punish people without trial, let alone conviction and sentencing by a jury of their peers. Arrest on trivial or even perjured grounds, a few days incarceration and abuse (with strip and body cavity searches now authorized additions to the menu), plus massive legal bills. The message to the
citizens sheep: don’t anger the government. The price of protest just went up again, the true inflation of our time.
“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”
Cue the laughter…
— A defiant Number 6 in The Prisoner. Hollywood’s fantasy heroes need no collective action, which makes them bad examples for us — not inspirations.
- DoD’s training guide (operating instructions) to the Pre-Academic Laboratory – To prepare military personnel (eg, pilots) for capture, detention and interrogation
- The Supreme Court ruling in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 2 April 2012
- “The Obama DOJ and strip searches“, Glenn Greenwald, 3 April 2012
- “The High Court’s Body-Cavity Fixation“, Scott Horton, Harper’s, 4 April 2012
- For more information about America’s shameful criminal justice system
(1) DoD’s training guide (operating instructions) to the Pre-Academic Laboratory – To prepare military personnel (eg, pilots) for capture, detention and interrogation.
- A strip and body cavity search inflicts “humiliation and degradation” on the prisoner. (item 2.2, page 5)
- During a body cavity search the observer is there to make the prisoner feel “uncomfortable and degraded”. (item 5.7, page 14)
(2) The Supreme Court ruling in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, 2 April 2012 — Excerpt:
In his view these detainees should be exempt from this process unless they give officers a particular reason to suspect them of hiding contraband. It is reasonable, however, for correctional officials to conclude this standard would be unworkable. The record provides evidence that the seriousness of an offense is a poor predictor of who has contraband and that it would be difficult in practice to determine whether individual detainees fall within the proposed exemption.
People detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.
Under the Obama Doctrine, high officials are beyond investigation (let bygones be bygones, each new Administration sweeps the slate clean). Citizens, esp of the lower classes, are presumed guilty and punished until found innocent.
(3) “The Obama DOJ and strip searches“, Glenn Greenwald, 3 April 2012 — Excerpt:
In essence, the Florence ruling grants prison officials license to subject every single arrested individual entering the general prison population to humiliating and highly invasive strip searches (that’s 13 million people every year, with hugely disproportionately minority representation), based on the definitive police state mentality — one that has been applied over and over — that isolated risks justify the most sweeping security measures. This policy has been applied to those arrested for offenses such as dog leash laws, peaceful protests, and driving with an expired license.
… In a speech to the Associated Press today, President Obama boasted that his signature domestic policies were basically conservative (he labeled them “centrist”): his individual mandate, he said, was pioneered by conservatives and the Heritage Foundation; his cap-and-trade policy was first proposed by Bush 41; federal spending is lower now than it was during any year of the Reagan administration, etc. Even the successes most touted by his supporters — the Detroit bailout, TARP, the withdrawal from Iraq — were started by Bush 43. Obama’s foreign policy and civil liberties assaults also, of course, were largely shared by his predecessor and are frequently praised by the Right.
(4) “The High Court’s Body-Cavity Fixation“, Scott Horton, Harper’s, 4 April 2012
There is very little doubt under the law about the right of prison authorities to subject a person convicted or suspected of a serious crime to conduct a strip search before introducing someone to the general prison population. But does the right to conduct a strip search outweigh the right to dignity and bodily integrity of a person who committed no crime whatsoever, who is apprehended based on a false suspicion that he hadn’t discharged a petty fine — for walking a dog without a leash, say, or turning a car from the wrong lane? Yes. In a 5–4 decision, the Court backed the position advocated by President Obama’s Justice Department, upholding the power of jailers against the interests of innocent citizens.
… Forced nudity and invasion of the body make the prisoner feel helpless, by removing all items that provide the prisoner with psychological support. In other words, the strip search is an essential step in efforts to destroy an individual’s sense of self-confidence, well-being, and even his or her identity. The value of this tool has been recognized by authoritarian governments around the world, and now, thanks to the Roberts Court, it will belong to the standard jailhouse repertoire in the United States. Something to consider the next time you walk Fido without scooping up his droppings — a cop may well be watching, ready to seize the opportunity to invade your rectum.
Your have no need to fear arrest on some minor pretext, followed by abusive confinement and large legal bills. Unless you are brown, or angered powerful people or even minor government officials.
(5) For more information about America’s shameful criminal justice system
- An opportunity to look in the mirror, to more clearly see America, 10 November 2009 — About our prisons
- Nixon declared war on drugs, a major investment of America in itself – but one that’s gone bad, 21 May 2010
- The Feds decide who to lock up for life (not just at Guantanamo), another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 2 June 2010
- Being a third world nation is a state of mind, as we will learn (about prison rape), 19 March 2011
- Our prisons are a mirror showing the soul of America. It’s not a pretty picture., 28 March 2011
- The Collapse of American Criminal Justice System — Excerpts from The Collapse of American Criminal Justiceby William J. Stuntz
- More about the collapse of the American Criminal Justice System– Studies and reports about our shameful system.
- Final thoughts about the American Criminal Justice System, 21 September 2011