Male Guard Allowed To Videotape Strip Search At Female Prison
A Massachusetts all-female prison is coming under fire after it was revealed that male guards were allowed to film mandatory strip searches of inmates.
via Think Progress
At the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center, inmates who are transferred to a segregated unit are strip searched during the transfer. As part of this strip search, an inmate is required to “run her fingers through her hair, remove dentures if she wore them, raise both arms, lift her breasts, lift her stomach for visual inspection if she had a large mid-section, and remove any tampon or pad if she were menstruating. She was then required to turn around, bend over, spread her buttocks, and cough.”
Throughout the transfer, including the strip search, a corrections officer would videotape the entire process. Since mid-September of 2008, a male guard was assigned the task of videotaping these strip searches on 274 different occasions. Moreover, although prison policy stated that male officers should only record the inmate “from the neck up” while the strip searches are going on, a federal court determined that 68 percent of the videos show “some or all of the women’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts.”
On Tuesday, a federal trial court in Massachusetts held that it is “plainly unconstitutional to require a female inmate to expose herself, particularly to the extreme degree required during a strip search, in the presence of a male officer.” Even assuming that “the male officer doing the videotaping was able somehow to avert his eyes while using the camera,” something the defendants in this lawsuit claim that the officers actually did do, Judge Michael Ponsor explained that the search still violates the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.