Oral argument: October 12, 2011
Appealed from: United State Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (April 15, 2010)
Petitioner Albert Florence was arrested on an outdated bench warrant for a non-indictable offense and was subjected to “strip searches” in two separate prison facilities. Florence sued both facilities, alleging that their blanket policies of strip searching all detainees, regardless of their offense, violates the Fourth Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a District Court opinion, holding that the policies in this case did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Florence argues that the Fourth Amendment protects detainees from suspicionless strip searches when less intrusive alternatives better serve penological interests. The Respondents contend that the prison context diminishes the Fourth Amendment’s privacy expectation, and that the privacy expectation is outweighed by the security interest promoted by blanket strip searches. The decision in this case could affect prison security, the psychological wellbeing of detainees, and the future volume of prison litigation.