The U.S. Supreme Court handed down an opinion allowing routine strip searches in jails. Meanwhile, the ACLU released results of a nationwide inquiry that revealed many local law enforcement agencies are tracking people through cell phones without getting a warrant first.
In Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, the high court decided that a policy of routine strip searches of inmates admitted to the general jail population is constitutional irrespective of whether those inmates are in custody for violent or drug-related offenses as the policy "struck a reasonable balance between inmate privacy and the needs of the institutions."
The opinion involved the case of a New Jersey man who was strip-searched after his arrest on a bench warrant for failure to pay a fine (which it turned out he had, in fact, paid). It is unclear how far the opinion extends into custody holds where the inmate has not yet seen a magistrate.
Justice Breyer wrote a dissent: "Even when carried out in a respectful manner, and even absent any physical touching… such searches are inherently harmful, humiliating, and degrading.”
When it comes to cell phone tracking, too, privacy rights appear to be slipping downwards. The ACLU made inquires of police agencies across the country to determine cell phone tracking policies.
Of the 200 or so agencies that responded it appears that many use cell phone tracking in criminal and/or emergency investigations and have policies that allow tracking without a warrant or on a less stringent standard than probable cause.