The defendant was arrested based on an outstanding warrant that should have been removed from a computer database. The officer took the defendant to a local detention center, where he was required to shower with a delousing agent, was visually examined for scars, marks, gang tattoos, and contraband, he was instructed to open his mouth, lift his tongue, hold out his arms, turn around, and lift his genitals. The defendant shared a cell with at least one other person and interacted with other inmates following his admission. Six days later the defendant was moved to another detention center, in which he had to undergo a similar process. These examinations took place regardless of the “circumstances of the arrest, the suspected offense, or the detainee’s behavior, demeanor, or criminal history.”
Whether the government could conduct close visual inspections only if it had reason to suspect a particular inmate of concealing a weapon, drugs, or other contraband of persons arrested for minor offenses?
No. Due to the nature of and uncertainties in detention facilities, it is reasonable for the government to conduct close visual inspections of all incoming persons.
“The difficulties of operating a detention center must not be underestimated by the courts.” The Court found that “[I]t is not surprising that correctional officials have sought to perform thorough searches at intake for disease, gang affiliation, and contraband. Jails are often crowded, unsanitary, and dangerous places. There is a substantial interest in preventing any new inmate, either of his own will or as a result of coercion, from putting all who live or work at these institutions at even greater risk when he is admitted to the general population.” Therefore, it is reasonable for the government to design “procedures…to uncover contraband that can go undetected by a patdown, metal detector, and other less invasive searches.”
566 U.S. 318, 132 S. Ct. 1510 (2012)