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Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington

United States Supreme Court
566 U.S. 318 (2012)



In 2003, a bench warrant was issued for the arrest of Albert Florence (plaintiff), based on his failure to pay a fine imposed after a prior conviction for a minor offense. Florence paid the fine but the warrant was not removed from the statewide database. Consequently, Florence was arrested two years later and taken to the Burlington County Detention Center (Burlington County). After six days, Florence was transferred to Essex County Correctional Facility. At Burlington County, every arrestee was required to shower with a delousing agent. Correctional officers then examined the arrestees for identifying marks and contraband. Florence claims that he was required to open his mouth, lift his tongue, raise his arms, turn around, and lift his genitals. At Essex County Correctional Facility (Essex County), the largest county jail in New Jersey, the detainees were required to walk through a metal detector. Every inmate was then required to remove their clothing while a correctional officer examined their bodies for identifying marks and contraband. Florence claims that he was required to lift his genitals, turn around, and cough while squatting. Florence was then required to shower while officers inspected his clothing. Florence was released the day after arriving at Essex County. He brought suit against the governmental entities operating the jails, among other defendants, arguing that correctional officers should only be able to conduct strip searches in jail upon reasonable suspicion that the inmate carries contraband.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Roberts, C.J.)

Concurrence (Alito, J.)

Dissent (Breyer, J.)

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