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Illinois jail inmates say strip searches violate their rights

Dec. 31, 2013 at 4:04 PM

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Inmates at an Illinois jail say jailers force them to undergo strip searches in violation of their rights.

The allegations by 29 prisoners in the St. Clair County Jail are contained in a handwritten lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Ill, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday.

The lead plaintiff in the suit against Sheriff Richard Watson and jail guards is inmate Kevin Williams.

The suit, filed Friday, charges guards have conducted multiple strip searches of inmates without reasonable suspicion that inmates have concealed weapons or contraband. It charges other inmates and guards observed the strip searches.

A similar lawsuit filed last against the jail by inmate Timothy Headrick was dismissed last week.

He argued strip searches should not be done "in front of anyone else but the inmate and the officer conducting the strip search." He maintained the searches violated his constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures and from cruel and unusual punishment.

In dismissing Headrick's suit, Judge J. Phil Gilbert ruled strip searches weren't unconstitutional if they were not intended to humiliate prisoners, and Headrick presented no evidence they had.

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