Kenzie Ryback

Symposium Title

The Big Data Revolution and Its Impact on the Law


The Fourth Amendment states that citizens have the constitutional right to privacy, which includes being free from unreasonable searches. When citizens become prisoners, however, their rights, including their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches, may be limited. For example, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of blanket strip search policies in correctional institutions. The Supreme Court, however, cautioned that an unreasonably conducted strip search is unconstitutional if the strip search does not pass the reasonableness test. Because the Supreme Court has only reviewed cases involving privately conducted strip searches, the federal circuit and district courts have faced a new challenge: applying the reasonableness test to non-private, group strip searches. A strip search where a naked prisoner is forced to bend over and squat in front of not only the correctional officer conducting the strip search but also an audience of other naked prisoners is likely an extremely humiliating experience. Several courts agree that a wider audience enhances the invasion of privacy. What the courts have to determine regarding group strip searches is whether a legitimate penological interest of a correctional institution outweighs a prisoner's privacy interests. This Comment will first examine the case law dealing with group strip searches. Next, this Comment will argue that courts rely too much on the correctional officers' discretion when determining whether a group strip search advances a legitimate penological interest of the correctional institution. Finally, this Comment will analyze ways to combat the deference and recommend that the Supreme Court formally adopt a "less invasive alternatives" test when courts balance the needs of the correctional institution against the privacy interests of the prisoners.

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