Detroit Free Press
March 29, 2005
The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners, or even the state, ought to review immediately and monitor all of the county's jail policies and practices, following reports that prisoners were routinely stripped -- often by officers of the opposite sex -- and detained nude in a segregated cell.
A federal judge has already ruled that the Saginaw County Jail policy violated the constitutional rights of pretrial detainees who were confined without clothing or covering and sometimes forcibly stripped.
Staff members and even inmates of the opposite sex could allegedly observe the nude prisoners through a food slot or video monitor while they were in segregation. How would anyone feel sitting naked under a closed-circuit camera for hours, wondering who is watching?
Correctional facilities generally require the officers conducting any kind of strip search to be of the same sex as the inmate. But in the Saginaw County jail, officers of the opposite sex sometimes conducted the strips and nude detentions.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan joined a suit on behalf of 22 former prisoners arrested for minor offenses between mid-1999 and the end of 2001. According to the suit, one young woman was left naked in segregation for three days during her menstrual cycle. The guards tore the stitches of another woman, the victim of domestic abuse, as they stripped her, the suit alleges.