New York City reaches $33 million strip search settlement

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New York City settled a US$33 million (24.3m, £21.8m) class-action lawsuit involving nearly 100,000 former and current prison inmates who were illegally strip-searched. This is the third strip-search court case in the past decade.

The plaintiffs included convicts who were charged with misdemeanors including trespassing, shoplifting, and failing to pay child support. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the inmates by the Manhattan law firm Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady. The lead lawyer, Richard Emery, said that "The city knew [strip-searching] was illegal in 1986. They said it was illegal and they stopped in 2002, and they continued to pursue this illegal practice without justification. We hope this settlement constitutes some semblance of justice."

The plaintiffs claimed that both men and women were strip searched, and forced to show their genitals to corrections officers. Woman who were menstruating were not excluded from this practice, Emery said.

One of the plaintiffs, David Sanchez from the Bronx, said that after he was arrested for a drug-possession misdemeanor, an officer forced him to "squat...grab my butt my fingers through my hair [and] through my mouth. I had to grab my genital area, and lift it for them."