Sixth Circuit decision on Juvenile Strip Searches

The National Law Journal was yesterday reporting the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati's holding that, despite the fact the Hazard County, Ky. youths were arrested on the relatively minor charge of underage drinking, Breathitt Regional Juvenile Detention Center jailers acted within the law to enforce a general strip-search policy for all detainees, reversing in part the earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Karl Forester of the Eastern District of Kentucky in T.S, et al. v. John Doe, et al., which  had sided with the youths’ parents, who claimed that a strip search conducted without specific suspicion for juveniles arrested on nonviolent and minor charges violated the Fourth Amendment. The drinking charges against the youths, a male and a female, ultimately were dropped.

“The case was complicated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s later ruling in the 2012 case, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, that strip searches of adult pretrial detainees, regardless of the severity of the alleged offense or the absence of suspicions, are permitted,” the Journal reported, (but), writing for the Sixth Circuit, Judge Danny Boggs said the Florencedecision leaves open the question of its applicability to juvenile detainees. Even so, Boggs wrote, the plaintiffs failed to show any evidence of constitutional harm.”