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Baltimore cases tied up with Supreme Court strip search ruling

Getting arrested is a stressful experience for almost anyone no matter what. Whether a person committed a crime or didn't, is young or old or has been arrested before, an arrest has a significant impact on one's life.

Citizens have rights when they are arrested. Those rights can protect them from self-incrimination and from violations of privacy. The right to one's privacy is a hot topic in the criminal justice system right now due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding the constitutionality of strip searches. The ruling has locals questioning whether a woman arrested for a traffic violation in Baltimore should have been strip searched.

The Baltimore Sun reports that a woman was pulled over and arrested in 2008 after she says she failed to see signals blocking a ramp and proceeded to drive on that ramp. She also failed to notice the officer signaling behind her, which apparently upset the officer. He approached the suspect's vehicle with his gun drawn.

The suspect was arrested and taken into custody. Even though her alleged offense wasn't one involving violence or drugs, plus she didn't have a criminal background, the suspect was subjected to a strip search in the facility. She and others who believe that their rights to privacy were violated, are attempting to sue the government for the way they were treated.

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court recently ruled that "...bare-body inspections are appropriate to ensure safety within the general population of a jail, even for those arrested on minor offenses." The ruling could potentially sway the direction of the civil cases related to strip searches here in the state.

Advocates for the Maryland plaintiffs, however, argue that these cases are different. They wonder why suspects who are arrested for nonviolent, minor offenses and very unlikely to be put in jail with other inmates should have to be strip searched. They aren't a threat to the jail population, and privacy is something that shouldn't be violated so readily.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Supreme Court strip search ruling threatens city lawsuits," Tricia Bishop, April 19, 2012

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