Up for Debate: SCOTUS, the sheriff and strip searches

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 12:22am

In this week's print edition, Sheriff Daron Hall talks about last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on full-body strip searches on inmates. What do you think of what the sheriff has to say? How do you feel about the ruling? What's the likelihood of it leading to overuse or abuse of power?

96 Comments on this post:

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 2:57

I think the bigger question is why the hell are they incarcerating so many people who have done no harm to anyone else. Our 'justice' system has simply become an arrest, prosecution and incarceration monster that feeds on people who offer minimal threat to society. The country is made up of tens of thousands of little municipal fiefdoms where the public is scared into believing a Barney Fife mentality cracking down on every minor impropriety... the cost of which is buried and overshadowed by the ignorant 'DO SOMETHING!' masses who give over more of our liberty every time some critical incident or tragedy is emphasized and dramatized by the media.

I bet you could get a majority of people to agree to DNA test litter and just make the fines big enough to cover the cost of testing it. No worries that 10% or 20% of the economy is wasted on an activity that's adding little value and can be remedied easier after the fact. They'd just say, "that makes sense" and take money out of the economy for this non-value-added activity that could be better used for schools or any number of positive value-added endeavors. It's the distinction of effectiveness over efficiency... or doing right things rather than things right.

Often times an 80 or 90 percent solution costs a small fraction of what a 100% solution does but you seldom see such rationality when it comes to arrest, prosecution and incarceration... upon which we spend far in excess of what we do in society on education. This even not considering the intangible costs of destroying people's lives for no good reason.

By: Ummm... on 4/10/12 at 4:30

Ben, I couldn't agree more. But, in spite if your well-reasoned and no doubt well-intended post, isn't it the folks who pay lip service to "keeping government small and out of our lives" who have become the "morality police" who squander resources needlessly on petty and victimless crimes? (I'm talking about the Republicans, of course.)

By: dargent7 on 4/10/12 at 5:00

The TSA with the full body X-ray scanners was the peak of insanity.
Then taking suspicious passengers aside for a pat down. Middle Eastern men, which profile 99% of all the insane ones who want to kill us? No.
4 year old little girls and 90 year old grandmothers.
Now, local sherrifs want to "cavity search" an arrestee taken into custody.
Guy had time to put his crack up his rectum? Or, shove the pipe where the sun don't shine?
On another TCP thread, law makers want to drug test welfare recipients.
What happened to America?

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 5:24

Are people familiar with the court case that caused this? A man was arrested because of outstanding warrants (which were not outstanding, the man produced a paper which stated so and presented this to the cop who ignored it). At jail, he was strip searched and found to be clean. Then, he was transferred and strip searched again and found clean. The man sued. The cops say it was necessary for security reasons.

I say BS.

What I found interesting (or, perhaps I should say, troubling) is that it was the Conservative judges who just thrashed personal liberty. Aren't they supposed to be the champions of individual freedom??

By: dargent7 on 4/10/12 at 5:35

Reminiscent of "Miranda vs. Arizona"...1974 or so.
Now, all Police have to give "us" our "rights".
Only then can they tell us to bend over.

By: Loner on 4/10/12 at 5:38

Good morning, Nashville!

Our posting community kicked this around a few days ago, when the USSC rulng on strip searches came down...the strip search decision was announced on the same day that the TN Senate voted unanimously to ban saggy, baggy pants in the High Schools....I remember asking if those arrested for showing their underwear - the saggy pants boys - would be arrested and strip-searched by police.

As I recall, Daron Hall welcomed the decision, claiming it gave his men "more flexibility". I think that we can interpret "flexibility" as meaning latitude to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

In law, "arbitrary and capricious" is defined as: "Absence of a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made". (Source: http://www.lectlaw.com/def/a064.htm)

If there is a God in heaven, Justice Clarence Thomas will get pulled over, while in civilian clothes, and having forgotten his wallet, gets taken downtown and strip-searched and cavity checked by racist white cops in Washington, DC.

Oh yes, there will be abuse...of that there is little doubt.

And this Daron Hall character wants to run for Governor? Or is it Mayor of Nashville? Or is it "Fuhrer in der Koonskin Kap Staat"?

From what I have read about the man and from his own statements, I conclude he's the kind of fellow who believes that the ends justify the means...a faith-based kind of a guy...we are to have faith in Sheriff Daron Hall and his men...faith that they will not act in an arbitrary & capricious manner....fear not, oh ye of little faith....the Sheriff's a good guy....right?

"Achtung...droppen ze hosen! Schnell!"

By: dargent7 on 4/10/12 at 5:38

Google ,"Miranda Rights"....facinating.
s/h/b: 1966.
gD: The Beatles just finished, "The White Album".

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 5:40

That can of worms you hear being opened is racial profiling. Let's see...Pete the Policeman has arrested Biff for jaywalking and Jesus (that's pronounced hey-soos, yogi) for driving too slow in the fast lane.

Biff looks like he just came from the Masters...Jesus has a do-rag and some tattoos. Guess which lucky contestant gets Pete's finger?

Bad, BAD law.

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 5:43

Nope, Darge. The Beatles, in late 1966, were just beginning "Pepper". The first few tunes recorded, in September 1966 I think, were "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane". The album began as an ode to their childhood, but the label wanted a few singles...Penny Lane was the A side, Fields the B. They continued with the album, which became "Pepper".

The White Album was recorded in 1968, mainly songs written during their time in India.

By: Loner on 4/10/12 at 5:50

Now is the time to invest in companies that make latex exam gloves...cavities aren't just for dentists anymore....maybe we can train the cops to check out our prostate glands while they're at it?

For those with inflamed hemorrhoids....may your god be with you.

By: dargent7 on 4/10/12 at 6:06

gD: You're right. "Magical Mystery Tour" had the songs on it you referenced, which was before "Sgt. Pepper".
I know about India. I've got a 8X10 photo of The Maharishi with a 4 Beatles and their girlfriends at the time. It's amazing, timeless, and beautiful.

By: Rasputin72 on 4/10/12 at 6:10

This inflames me to hear of this brazen loss of dignity. I have been an observer of police life for my entire life. I am convinced that no one who aspires to being a policeman has ever been accussed or recognized for being exceptonally bright.

The candidates for police jobs are those that want some degree of power which heretofore has never been attainable. Believe me when I say that this law will be used by these people to right every incident of being told to shut up by their childhood peers.

This will become the most abused form of police action since lynching was the vogue.

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 6:14

MMT was after Pepper, late '67 I think. "All you need is love" is on there too, that was recorded in the summer of '67.

By: dargent7 on 4/10/12 at 6:29

Good thing I don't gamble. Release dates:
Sgt. Pepper: 6/1/67
MMT: 11/27/67
Yellow Sub: 7/17/68
White: 11/22/68
Miranda arrested for raping an 18 year old in Arizona: 1966.
I got my civil right's mixes up with my Beatles.

By: Kosh III on 4/10/12 at 6:50

For once Ben and all us pinko commie liberals are in total agreement.
Good post Ben!!!!!!!

Why aren't prominent "conservatives" upset over the fraking of the 4th Amendment.?Aren't they supposed to "conserve" the best of our society?

Welcome to the FCA: Fascist Corporation of America.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/10/12 at 7:28

Moonglow1: The USA incarcerates more people than any other country: 1 in 100 are in jails or prisons. This is the result of lobbying by the prison industry: the more people behind bars, the more lucrative for prison operators like CCA and others. Daron Hall comes from that world.
Prison guards abuse their power regularly. Mr. Hall says strip searches are for protection as inmates bring in contraband. Of course many do, however strip searching everyone is a bad deal. Republican's continue to "strip away" the power of citizens.
Mr. Hall is the President of the American Correctional Association, the trade group for the industry. Prisons are big business in the USA. Can you imagine what the unemployment rate really is in this country.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 7:36

Legalize and tax recreational drugs. Treat recreational drugs the same as recreational liquor. Sell it in liquor stores. Police it the same as liquor. Apply the same penalties for abuse as liquor. The crime rate will soon go down. The Mexican drug cartels will return to lawn services. Less govt. drug officers will be needed. Fewer burglaries, and other crimes will follow. Less people will be in the slammer, making BenDover happy.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 7:39

Sell wine in Nashville grocery stores.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/10/12 at 7:47

Moonglow1: The big news for me is the fact (as reported by the TN Business Journal) that Haslam is disappointed that Volkswagen who set up shop in Chattanooga hired a national search firm to fill their high level technical jobs like engineers. Apparently, the light bulb went on in Haslam's head. He now figures he needs to focus more on educating our young people in science and math.

What a joke!!! Haslam is getting ready to sign the "creationism" bill.

Well you tea p's, you can't have it both ways: attract good companies that need highly skilled people like engineers, but pass legislation to promote "dark age" education.

While these idiot legislators led by "no brain Haslam" concentrate their legislative efforts on banning teens from holding hands, creationism, and Hurley from Lenoir City who refutes two rulings by the attorney general, what can we expect? The only jobs we can fill are low level: we cannot compete globally with idiots like the tea lead TN legislative imbeciles in charge. We are the laughing stock of the nation.

Haslam: get a clue. You pass that creationism bill and kiss Volkswagen goodbye. Dump your ALEC handlers and man up,!!!

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 8:08

I don't think the whole strip search is the issue because it's been going on for decades and the SC simply codified it as a valid tactic to avoid weapons and contraband. The issue is that we've got 1 in 8 black males between the ages of 18 and 35 years old in jail at this moment. When you consider an average term of less than 2 years it makes it an almost certainty that a young black man is going to spend time behind bars.

That's a de facto failure of society and our culture right there... and contributes substantially to racial strife and discontent in this country; upon which a substantial amount of the violent crime is based. The fines and court costs and probation costs and requirements make it an almost certainty that any minor offense will turn into a revolving door of violations that teach these young men who can't afford to buy their way out, the hard way, that life really isn't fair.

And people comply with society's mores and laws only to the degree that they believe that society is fair... so, thus, as is usually the case... the government cure is the cause.

We need some very important reforms in this country. Instead of worrying so much about stupid strip searches we should assure that the people going into custody actually have offered up some harm to society in the first place. We need to restore the idea of Liberty upon which this country was founded over the concept of Government authority that rules now. We need to shut up the idiots screaming 'DO SOMETHING!' about every tragedy, critical incident or minor impropriety and realize sometime shit happens and there's no need for one of us to go to jail every time the vocal group self-appointed control nuts gets outraged.

By: dargent7 on 4/10/12 at 8:31

"stupid strip searches..."?
How about, "stupid Miranda Rights and Warnings"?
4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments in The Bill of Rights being violated.
Full body, X-Ray scans at the airport?
Clinics just came out with Dentist's "bite-wing" X-rays of your teeth cause a 2:1 increase brain tumors.
"What are you people on, dope?"

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 8:33

Sell wine in Nashville grocery stores.

This is no time for rational thinking...

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 8:39

Ben, there's no doubt that a disproportionate amount of black youths are in jail. But.. they were either falsely charged, or committed a crime. You have to have some type of system. What reforms would you introduce to address fairness, or assess who actually should be incarcerated?

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 8:48

''Free Sean Payton''
-Jimmy Buffett

By: yogiman on 4/10/12 at 9:00

Has the black people taken over the relation to "in house" criminals or is that local crimes only?

When I worked in the federal prison they had two white cell blocks, one black and white combined (with men who agreed) cell block and one black cell block.

Since the population is [roughly] 13% black and the vast majority white, has the black minority of the people taken over the prisons in population?

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 9:05

Marijuana should be legal. And the courts shouldn't be operated for-profit to justify the perpetual expansion of our 'justice' system, Slack. The zero tolerance for for minor improprieties does far more harm than good. Especially when the impropriety is illegal based on the remote potential that it might lead to harm to someone else rather than having actually done harm to someone else.

Also the fines should be something that people could reasonably attain and not, as my example about DNA testing litter, contribute to a system that pays for itself without regard to the overall damage it's doing to the individual or society at large. That's what the 8th amendment was supposed to be but 'justice' is a cottage industry for most municipalities now and that archaic ideal has been long forgotten.

America is the only society in the world that when a problem arises the natural reaction is to first find someone to blame rather than look for a solution to the problem.

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 9:32

I wish, too, that half the political effort in this country did not go into promoting the idea that life isn't fair when huge efforts are made to provide equal opportunities in our society. As I noted before, people will comply with the rules and mores of society to the degree that they believe they are fair but when you've got 1/2 the political population making its hay on angst then you end up teaching people it's OK to break the rules because the game isn't fair. Well, of course, the system isn't 100% fair because you'd have to vest so much power in an authority to assure it that the authority becomes the menace and there's then no incentive to excel and produce beyond what national propaganda and whips can drive; but the huge investments we make to assure equal opportunity, if combined with a message that encouraged everyone that they can take these opportunities and overcome most any adversity would be fundamentally constructive, not just for society, but most for the people the uber-egalitarian movement purports to help.

Martin Luther King's dream was that his children be measured based on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin. Society has achieved that dream. But now we suffer people who hope to gain political advantage through divisiveness... not just between blacks and whites but among all races... and not just on race but on gender, on sexual preference, on economic achievement, on private vs. public workers, on union vs. non-union, on Christian vs. Secular. We are a country turned against itself so that the ruling class suffers no consequence for its own failures. We suffer the seeds sewn of perpetual outrage rather than hard work and reward. Instead of creating a bigger pie that we can all reap the benefits of; we engage in the zero sum game of lawyers... fighting over the pie someone else went to the trouble to cook and feeling totally righteous about it because we are whipped into some outrage about one vague injustice or another.

Avoid that trap and society has the opportunity to continue to progress and produce itself out of the mess lain for us by generations past.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 9:35

Ben, other than hiring relatives for staff, I don't see that the courts operate for profit.
I think most people agree that the prison system, should be run by the government, regardless of cost. Outsourcing was a bad idea. Decriminalizing some offense's might help, but I doubt it would help much. We have a large amount of high school drop-outs with nothing to do with their time. Remember the Devils workshop adage.

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 9:48

Slack... America has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. The 'for profit' term I combine with 'fiefdom' to indicate that the 'justice' system has outgrown it's britches. I need to learn to use another term because everyone then jumps immediately to a private vs. public distinction but what I intended was to illustrate that cities are using their 'justice' apparatus as a self-feeding revenue monster... a larger and larger pie wedge that has reached the point of diminishing returns but continues to grow... surpassing education... surpassing leaving money in the local economy to advance the private sector (upon which charity and government depend). This was the point I was trying to make.

By: LizzyD on 4/10/12 at 9:50

Just in time for "Occupy Spring."

Betcha all those dirty, druggie, rapist, lazy hippies with their hands out screaming "Gimme, gimme," won't be so anxious to be arrested now, right?

/sarc off

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 9:51

Ben sorry, didn't see your last post. IMO the divide in this country were inevitable, after the well intentioned, ''Great Society Program was implemented. Two generations of people ''hooked' on a system.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 9:57

They tried to make me go to rehab.. I said no..no..no

By: brrrrk on 4/10/12 at 10:02

BenDover said

"I think the bigger question is why the hell are they incarcerating so many people who have done no harm to anyone else. Our 'justice' system has simply become an arrest, prosecution and incarceration monster that feeds on people who offer minimal threat to society."

I suspect that ALEC has a hand in this.... backed by companies like Corrections Corporation of America and the legislators (mostly on the right) who shill for them.

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 10:15

Geezzz... I wish for just one moment people on the left could listen to what I'm saying without knee-jerking themselves a black-eye about evil corporations. It's simply a distraction to a larger and more menacing whole at this point.

I read Joel Dyer's "Perpetual Prisoner Machine" about 5 years ago and that's where he went off the tracks. The contractor washing the sheets for 940 out in Murfreesboro isn't the problem. The problem is that the biggest building in the county is the County Jail and they eat a disproportionate amount of the county's economic pie; this in addition to all of the souls they consume and destroy in the process. And this scenario is repeated over and over in almost every municipality in America.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/10/12 at 10:25

If yogi ever did work in a prison, Federal or not he must have been in the liars section.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 10:30

Ben, I understand that one of Sheriff Hall's lock-ups is empty. They are considering selling jail space to other counties.

By: brrrrk on 4/10/12 at 10:33


Just curious, did that book you read also point out that, like private schools, private prisons cherry pick inmates leaving the biggest trouble makers and the most costly inmates for the counties/states to deal with? Bet not.....

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 10:39

They should burn it down and salt the earth in my opinion.

For every Jail cell they have there will be at least that many of us who are prisoners.

I'm surprised it's empty unless they built a new facility to expand and have not yet expanded to fill full capacity yet. I'm sure there's some federal grant on its way to help justify an increased census though. There's no scarcity of people screaming 'DO SOMETHING!' and certainly no scarcity of politicians who are willing to pander those cries.

By: BenDover on 4/10/12 at 10:42

I don't believe in private prisons brrrk. I think incarceration should be costly and arduous for a society. No better way to assure than than through a government bureaucracy.

I've expected the private prison industry to collapse on its own weight by now though without the tort protections that public prisons and governments have.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/10/12 at 10:50

I find the stripping of anyone for any reason to be a disgrace to all U.S. citizens. However since Cheney/Bush take over, the far right-wing has led us to this point and now I wonder will the revolution be far behind?

I’m beginning to feel has if I am in a foreign, like Iran or Syria.

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 10:51

I don't believe corporations are evil. That would imply that corporations are people. They are not.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/10/12 at 10:52

Good point gdia.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 11:14

''Only a genius can be truly evil''
-Austin Powers

By: Captain Nemo on 4/10/12 at 11:30

That can’t be true slacker, because yogi ain’t a genius nor is a saint. He just insane.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/10/12 at 11:32

I like this;

By: treehugger7 on 4/9/12 at 7:57
I also understand how to use good English--I didn't grow up here!

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 11:50

Nemo, he's no doubt a tree whisperer .. ''you'll grow tall and strong my leafy friend''

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 11:51

Believed in global warming.. before Al Gore.

By: slacker on 4/10/12 at 12:00

''If you were a tree..what kind would you be?''
- Barbara WaWa

By: gdiafante on 4/10/12 at 12:06

I believed in global warming before, during and after Gore. Especially when it was near 90 degrees in March...

By: Captain Nemo on 4/10/12 at 12:24

I am a petrified tree stump.