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Salt Lake County Jail Must Finalize Its Strip Search
Policy Before Court Will Consider Ending a Twenty-Two Year Old
December 20, 2004
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SALT LAKE CITY--U.S. District Court Judge Bruce S. Jenkins ruled today
that the Salt Lake County Jail must finalize its strip search policy before
the court will consider its motion to terminate a twenty-two year old
consent decree restricting the circumstances under which the jail can
constitutionally conduct strip searches.
consent decree resulted from a 1982 case, Regan v. County of Salt
Lake, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and
cooperating attorneys Bob Anderson, Rocky Anderson, and Wayne
McCormick on behalf of Judith Regan, an out-of-state reporter,
and several other female plaintiffs who had been strip searched
at the Salt Lake County Jail. The action charged violations of
plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable
searches and seizures.
Regan, who was visiting Salt Lake City at the time, was pulled
over for a traffic violation and refused to sign her ticket because
it required a statement that she would appear in court within
a specific time frame, a commitment she knew she could not meet
because she would no longer be in the area. She was then handcuffed
and eventually strip searched by county law enforcement.
November 2004, the Salt Lake County Jail asked the Federal District
Court to terminate the decree, claiming that there are no current
constitutional violations and that the current search procedures
at the jail meet constitutional standards. Under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, passed by Congress in 1996, consent decrees that exceed
constitutional standards may be terminated in appropriate cases.
gaps in jail policy as well as the fact that the jail has been
sued twice since 1982 by plaintiffs who were strip searched, the
ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney Bob Anderson asked the court
to appoint an expert witness to evaluate whether or not there
are current and ongoing constitutional violations at the jail.
the court did not consider the expert witness request during today’s
hearing, ACLU of Utah staff attorney Margaret Plane was pleased
that it did require the county to finalize its strip search policy
before it would consider the motion to terminate. “We’re
pleased the court is taking this issue seriously—it makes
sense for the county to finalize its policy before the court considers
whether there are current and ongoing constitutional violations
under that policy.”
Salt Lake County has until January 12, 2005 to finalize its policy
and to amend and refile its motion.
here for more information on Regan,
et al. v. County of Salt Lake, et al >>