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I believe there is a law that states strip searches are performed by officers of the same sex as the detainee, and not by officers of a different sex. However this did not occur in the following cases.

Is there any law broken in these cases? Under what circumstances would male or female officers strip female or male detainees, respectively, forcibly?

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There is no hard rule that a strip search cannot be performed by a different-gendered officer. The hard rule is that the search must be reasonable (as required by the 4th Amendment) , which means that there have to be sufficient reasons for the search. Depending on the circumstances, a search of a male by a female, or in view of a female, could be reasonable – and in other circumstances it could be unreasonable. As the court in Cookish v. Powell, 945 F. 2d 441 said,

In each case it requires a balancing of the need for the particular search against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails. Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted, the justification for initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted

There are trends in the law which speak in favor of inmates right to privacy from cross-gender strip searches. Byrd v. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is a recent decision where given the circumstances, a cross-gender search was found to be unreasonable. Cookish v. Powell is one where it wasn't unreasonable. This resource file assembles numerous court rulings, classifying them for judicial circuit, gender of staff vs. gender of inmate, sorting according to who prevails. The "rule" would be that the more intrusive the staff conduct is, the less reasonable the search is: but the more of an emergency there is, the more reasonable the search is.

  • I know they were in jail. But if my daughter or wife or sister was stripped by male officers forcibly.I would be really upset. It should be done by officer of the same sex as the detainee. – Pie Aug 25 at 3:59
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    Of course, you're assuming perhaps that the officers are heterosexual. Or does that not matter? If you have a person who is not in control of its faculties and it places something dangerous to itself in its clothes, would you rather have the person stripped to protect the person or wait for another officer to arrive? What if you're somewhere (perhaps a small town) where all of the officers are the same sex? Or the officers on duty are all the same sex? There are no hard and fast rules in law, because we've learned that hard and fast rules don't work. Hence the reasonableness standard. – Wm Wolff - Law Exam Guides Aug 26 at 4:06

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