back to article Busted in the US? 'Drop your trousers, sir'

Again displaying their infinite law-and-order wisdom, the US Supreme Court has ruled that anyone arrested for any offense, however innocuous, can be strip-searched, even if there's no suspicion that they are concealing contraband. "Every detainee who will be admitted to the general [jail or prison] population may be required …


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  1. heyrick Silver badge

    Dear Land Of Liberty...

    ...are you actually trying to devise reasons to convince tourists to go elsewhere?

    1. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      Convinced me. Merely continues the trends started at the airport as far as I can see.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      ...Implying there's some other place...

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        there are a lot of places in the world which wouldn't treat you like this, hell, you can practically fight with a policeman in spain and you still get treated better than the guy walking his dog without a leash.

        as much as you might like to think we're all swirling around the abyss, it's not nearly as black or white as that, some people believe in fighting the authorities for their rights and as a result the authorities back off, it's just a pity you guys in the uk don't learn something from your spanish friends...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      Not the US, here in the UK they had their hands on a couple of under 16's at a School apparently on suspicion of selling drugs, without parents present.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        They had specific information that the under 16s in question were smuggling drugs into the school in their underwear. Funny enough, when searched they did find drugs in their underwear. Cue parent's indignantly fuming about their poor little innocent Johnny being strip searched ... give me a break.

        I'm vehemently against erosions of privacy and liberty such as the one this article is about. It's entirely unnecessary and invasive to strip search a person for any minor offence with no prior indication or suspicion that they might be concealing something on their person. However that's very different from searching anyone, including school children, when you have witnesses stating that the individual(s) in question are hiding narcotics in their underwear, and worse bringing then into a school.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

          The thing is the parents should have been present (as in in the building not in the room) then the children should have been searched, with two people present at the search to ensure no inappropriate actions..

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

          And how difficult would it have been to detain the pupils, wait for a parent/guardian or childs advocate to be summoned and then conduct the search??

          You know thats actually how the written law says it should be done!

        3. Clark Coffman
          Thumb Up

          Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

          Thank you, thank you for posting the facts on that particular case with the students, I just love it when people raise things like this event and purposely leave out very important details.

          I have to say that The Register has done a total dis-service to this story. They make it sound like if you are stopped for anything in the US, you can be strip searched, not so but if the incident goes far enough that they are going to lock you up for some period of time, they are definitely going to search you and they have the right and the bloody responsibility to do so.

          I speak from personal experience, when I was 18 I was arrested, not the first time but the first time as an adult in the US. They had to put me in a cell because the booking rooms were too busy to handle any more folks at the time. (I had an unpaid minor under consumption fine from three months previously, a drinking under age fine basically and I was hauled in after being stopped for a tail light that was out on my van.)

          While they did not strip search me they did do a very complete pat down search and then locked me up for about an hour. I can totally understand why since I was being put into the city jail cells with others. It's only prudent and even at that age I understood. What if someone takes a pocket knife off me in the cell and hurts me or others, what if I'm carrying something else that ends up being used to cuase harm? Do you think I'll be held responsible? Not likely, instead someone will sue the police for not making sure I didn't bring in something dangerous or something coveted by another being held with me.

          I'm 49 now, just to be clear that this has been a standard practice in the US for a very long time. This is exactly what the justices were debating too, not whether you could be strip searched at the airport, or in a public place, or strip searched outside your car on the highway. Jeez is there any common sense among folks anymore? Do we have to have knee jerk reactions to everything and every mistake a human makes?

          I feel for the guy, he shouldn't have even been locked up but dang it people make mistakes and to drag in a practice like searching someone before locking them up as some nationally important event seems bogus to me.

          Also what we probably don't hear here is that this guy was probably right in the cops face or something similar, I'm not saying that is the case, I don't know but neither do the others posting here. I had friends when I was younger who were oh so verdant about their rights and often got into a cops face when we were stopped while walking around the town at 3 am in the morning.

          These idiots often came close to getting us all arrested over nothing but a request to see our ids. I learned a very long time ago, from a wise uncle, never, ever, piss off a cop, it's simply not smart nor is it going to get you anything but trouble. Be calm, do what they say and if you have problems with it, deal with it later if you feel so inclined. My wisdom to you younger geeks out there. Hope you're listening. :-)

      2. This Side Up

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        "Not the US, here in the UK they had their hands on a couple of under 16's at a School apparently on suspicion of selling drugs, without parents present."

        I suspect they'd have been a lot more embarrassed if their parents had been present.

      3. Windrose

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        Yes - and despite the remarks made elsewhere in the thread - that was very, very wrong. Even if they DID find drugs.

        The difference - the rather MAJOR difference - is that the UK Supreme Court hasn't said "Oh, that's ok, no matter what they've allegedly done or not done or who they are. Just go ahead, any time it takes your fancy"

    4. Haku

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      Pre-millennium I had a notion of wanting to visit America one day, but now if I had to choose between going to America or eating a kangaroo scrotum I'd ask you to pass me the ketchup.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      for a country

      So hung up on nudity I'm surprised this is allowed to go on.

      1. tirk


        I think that's the point. If they didn't think it was humiliating they'd think of some other way to humiliate and degrade. It's *intended* as extra-judicial punishment IMO.

        Nudity and sexual humiliation was prevelant an the Abu Graib photographs remember.

        The USA is a scary place to visit these days, flags, people in uniform everywhere, pro-military and patriotic slogans all over the place. I appreciate they feel under attack, but the end result was to make me think of 1930's Europe.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: for a country

        Thats the point though, its even more degrading when you find the nudity degrading as well as being searched. personally I don't care about the nudity, but I do care about being searched without cause, especially by another man... ..

        Strip searches sound like their being used for intimidation...

    6. jason 7

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      Yeah, we go to Canada now.

      Food and beer is a lot better and when you talk to a Canadian you don't get to hear "Oh you are a Brit eh? Didn't we save your ass back in WW2?"

      To which you want to reply "Yes you tedious twat you did help us out and we are eternally grateful and we paid you back every cent. Oh and thanks for reminding us every two minutes like a condescending parent . However, had you got involved when you should have done it may not have cost as much or taken as long!"

      Canada immigration the last time we went, stopped us when we mentioned one destination to mention most concerned that there was no snow at that location. They didn't want us to be disappointed! Ahhh bless.

      1. El Richard Thomas

        The only problem with going to Canada is the risk that if your destination airport is closed for any reason you may well be diverted to the US, and have to endure US immigration anyway. Wasn't one of those online gambling company owners who was arrested in the US was on a direct flight to somewhere further south? I seem to recall his flight was diverted to Miami because of "bad weather" or "mechanical problems".

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Isn't the TSA doing checks on people flying to Canada and Cuba from the UK now, and not allowing you to go even if you go nowhere near the US?

      2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        Likewise- I haven't set foot in the US since March 2000. But since then I've had some fantastic holidays in BC. Good food, good beer, great people.

    7. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      Promised I wouldn't set foot in the States until they came to their senses, oh well looks like my kids will never get to see Disneyland!

      "Sorry kids but America has a bunch of fucking morons in charge who consider the most innocent activity to be criminal and deserving of abuse that would make most Chinese Policemen say, 'Jeez that's a bit fucking harsh!', so if you want to see Mickey Mouse it will have to be performed in the rain by a French guy in a very hot suit who probably hates the English with a passion!'

      1. Iggle Piggle

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        Fuzzy, arrest is not the same as conviction. Supposing your argument were true it would mean that they are handing out punishment before conviction. Surely even the US have some amount of presumed innocence in their justice system.

      2. AdamWill

        Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

        Whew, your kids just caught a break.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      I haven't set foot in "the Land of Liberty" since George W Bush was elected .... And I live in the USA!

    9. Iggle Piggle

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...

      Convinced me years ago. I hate being treated like a criminal just for wanting to go on holiday there. I will now actively find reasons not to go there.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Dear Land Of Liberty...


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land of the perverts

    Seriously. Highly preoccupied with genital inspections. Fucking weird.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Land of the perverts

      Make it illicit, and people will find a way to see it. Those with power of others will often find a way to get what there illicit jollies through their jobs unless they are strictly controlled. It is clear that the US Supreme Court is not willing to ensure those strict controls are maintained. They have absolutely failed in their duty.

      What is left to those who wish to see proper respect for people? Rebellion?

  3. Silverburn

    Someone seriously needs to get their head out their arse and back into the real world, over in "Justice".

    Maybe when they themselves get the treatment after a minor traffic offence will they realise...

    1. asdf Silver badge

      never going to happen

      >Maybe when they themselves get the treatment after a minor traffic offence will they realise...

      The US actually has laws to protect those who make laws from the laws (immunity fail). In addition to tell how much judges get away with the main reason that idiot trigger happy nut in Florida isn't in jail is because his dad was a former judge. The US were poor go to jail for two seeds of pot but the rich can shoot people (or strangle them in OJs case) without jail time.

  4. Jonski

    This ruling gives carte blanche to pervert cops to oogle anybody they want, on any trumped-up charge they can think of. I can't wait to see what lawsuits are spawned from this one, and what payouts people get when the decision is finally overturned.

    A spot of fishing, anybody?

    1. JohnMoser

      "Overturned"? It's the SUPREME COURT. The case the plaintiff should have brought would be a civil one for the false arrest and imprisonment. A prison(or even a jail) certainly can't allow prisoners to carry in weapons. Otherwise you end up with a prison where the inmates run the err...asylum. It is curious that the conservative justices sided with a uber leftist county. Democrats support arresting people for just about anything; they have no interest in human rights,,,until you get arrested.

      1. Killraven

        Interesting sort of Democrats you have in your country, they sound very different than the ones in mine. I'm from America. Where are you?

        1. asdf Silver badge

          right wing twats

          Yep those Dems are embarassing. Oh wait it was Republicans that got W Bush elected for 8 years. Talk about an embarrassing train wreck of a president. Like Carter on steroids.

      2. Irony Deficient

        superfluous caps

        JohnMoser, it’s not unknown for the US Supreme Court to overturn one of its past decisions — consider Brown v. Board of Education overturning Plessy v. Ferguson. Granted, such a U-turn might take some decades to happen, but happen it does.

      3. Seán

        Sleepy People

        I shouldn't have to explain stuff about your country to you but you are suffering from being american. The supreme court is stacked with Republicans. You see now the basic childish error you've made. Your apology isn't necessary I don't care.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Sleepy People

          You need to study your maths more. I count 5 justices appointed by Republicans, 4 justices appointed by Democrats. And Republican appointees have a tendency to "go native" once they are on the court (like Blackmun, Powell, Stevens, and Souter). That's not stacked anywhere in the free world.

          What matters isn't party, it's willingness to substitute personal opinion for the strictures of the Constitution.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay attention to the "general population" bit. In most places, an arrest won't wind you up in general population. Even if it does, you might bond out before you see general population, as it can take days to in-process. What I'm surprised by is the outrage at this supreme court ruling. Those who've never been on the inside of a US prison or jail might be surprised to know that strip searches were already very common. Hell, you're already naked in front of other people when they dress you down to enter genpop, by which point you've long lost any dignity.

    You really have little rights when it comes to strip searches while in a jail or prison, and the argument has always been the same as the one for patdowns of contacted pedestrians by patrol officers: officer safety, and that of the population (other inmates), obviates the need to justify searches any more rigorously than "just to be sure." This is absolutely nothing new, and the "probable cause" the hippies blab on about hinges on quite a few easily manipulated or creatively-interpreted legal precedents. Many of which, mind you, already don't apply to those incarcerated.

    Note: not a lawyer, this is just my personal experience and supported by anecdotal evidence from acquaintances. It's a big country, and it could be much different from one jurisdiction to the next. Don't do drugs, kids.

    1. Notas Badoff


      headlight I see there. Shame it's the weekend and we're understaffed and we don't know when the judge will show up, or your lawyer, so it's just us and the other guests in the jail of this in-a-financial-crisis-so-we-can't-have-separate-facilities-for-tourists county. Ain't that right, General Pop? "Yes, sir! Give us some more sir!"

      BTW: come back when you have some applicable "my personal experience". Or are you saying you've already gotten to the "lost any dignity" point?

    2. John Wilson

      He didn't do drugs

      Erm.. all your post highlights is that not only is the American penal system FUBAR, but some people are perfectly happy with this state of affairs. Not that one needs to venture far on the internet to see Americans delighting in their "PMITA" form of prison, never considering that degradation of detainees could be harmful to both the detainee and the prison system as a whole.

      The fact, incidentally, that the SCOTUS has declared that one has no rights with regards to strip searches while in jail, does not imply that SCOTUS is right, and that one *should not* have such rights.

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: He didn't do drugs

        I love the word SCOTUS, it's just one letter off of SCROTUS. Which is how I always read it.

    3. Windrose

      Must be irony.

      Don't walk your dog either.

      Oh, and DEFINETLY don't pay fines. They'll do you anyway, whether you pay or not, so why bother?

      Well done, AC! You've explained very well why this asshattery is going on. Here, have a mirror.

    4. AdamWill


      "Those who've never been on the inside of a US prison or jail might be surprised to know that strip searches were already very common. Hell, you're already naked in front of other people when they dress you down to enter genpop, by which point you've long lost any dignity."

      Yes. Yes, we are surprised. That's kind of the point. I don't know of any other even vaguely civilized nation which treats its prisoners the way the U.S. does.

      What you seem to be missing is the fact that the rest of the civilized world is shocked, surprised and outraged when they hear about your standard prison procedures should be cluing you in to the fact they're outrageous and unacceptable by any reasonable standard of dignity.

  6. kain preacher Silver badge

    This applies to when they book you in jail. Usually being booked for some this trivial would not have in jail this long enough to be stripped searched. Now they can't just search on the street. You must formally be arrested and put into jail. Now what I want to know is was he arrested and put into jail. Not paying fines in not a offense which you can be jailed in New Jersey. Why was moved? Why was he in jail for two weeks before seeing a judge ?

    1. Old Handle

      He probably see probably said something rude to the cop, so the deliberately delayed clearing up the mistake to punish him. Plus he's black.

  7. norman

    I see why Americans that agree with this want a smaller government

    Due to the places they want their government to go....

    1. JC_

      Re: I see why Americans that agree with this want a smaller government

      And yet the so-called 'party of small government' - the Republicans - nominated the justices that made the majority in this decision. How can any voter with two brain cells keep voting for these guys? Santorum, FFS...

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: I see why Americans that agree with this want a smaller government

        The US Republicans aren't really the party of small government, whatever they say. They are the party of small government as regards handouts to poor people and regulation of their businesses, and giant government as regards their perpetual war machine, police state and.interference in other people's sex lives

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