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Inmate Body Cavity Search Laws

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What Is a Body Cavity Search?

A body cavity search is when the police or other enforcement agencies inspect certain areas of the human body in search of evidence or contraband. This is typically more invasive than a strip search as it may involve probing or insertion into various openings of the body. The agent is usually looking for drugs, weapons, or other illegal items. Body cavity searches may either be visual or manual, the latter of which involves touching or insertion.

Body cavity searches are often performed in areas where security is heightened, such as at airports, psychiatric facilities, and jails or prisons.

Are Inmate Body Cavity Searches Legal?

Strip searches or visual body cavity searches are often standard procedure when a person is being admitted for the first time into a jail or prison search. Examinations of the person’s body usually occur in order to help prevent the person from bringing a weapon or drugs into the facility. Rolled-up money, letters, and correspondences are often found during such procedural body cavity searches. Most state statutes authorize correctional facilities to enforce these preliminary body searches.

More invasive manual body cavity searches of inmates may sometimes be allowed as well. However, the authorities generally need a certain level of suspicion of illegal activity before they can require an inmate to submit to an intrusive body cavity search. The search must also be conducted according to various standards and regulations. These may include issues regarding:

  • Inmate privacy (the search needs to be conducted in privacy, with only those persons necessary to the search being present)
  • In accordance with medical sanitation regulations
  • No more intrusive than is necessary to accomplish the aim of the search

What If an Inmate’s Rights are Violated?

Violations of prisoner rights can sometimes lead to further legal issues. For instance, if a prisoner was harassed or injured during a body cavity search, the prison or the person conducting the cavity search may be held legally responsible for injuries or damages. This may require further legal investigation and may result in legal consequences for the liable party.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Inmate Rights?

Body cavity searches must be conducted in accordance with strict regulations. You may wish to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you or a loved one has had their rights violated by a body cavity search. Your attorney can provide legal advice and guidance, and can inform you of how to proceed in order to obtain a legal remedy.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-24-2018 12:39 AM PDT

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