House approves expanding strip searches in Iowa jails

jail prison bars generic

The Iowa House of Representatives approved a new rule that gives sheriff’s more authority to conduct strip searches of people who are booked into jail.

Iowa law currently allows strip searches only for inmates jailed for serious misdemeanor or felony charges. 

House File 2174 allows a strip search of any person jailed for a “scheduled violation or simple misdemeanor” if they will be “committed to the general population of a jail or municipal holding facility” and “there is reasonable suspicion” that the person is hiding a weapon or contraband.

The “reasonable suspicion” phrase was added to address lawmakers’ concerns that people could face strip searches after committing traffic violations or minor infractions, according to the QC Times.

The proposed new rule follows a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that allows strip searches of all jail inmates, regardless of the charges they face.  Supporters say the rule would improve safety in Iowa jails by supporting the sheriffs’ ability to provide a safe and secure environment in jail.

House records show the measure passed the House by a vote of 94 to 5 on March 5, 2014.  It was then forwarded to the Senate for consideration. 

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