Strip search bill stirs up controversy - WKRN News 2

Strip search bill stirs up controversy

Posted: Updated: March 6, 2013 05:11 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A bill that would give law enforcement the authority to strip search suspects, even for the smallest of crimes, is stirring up controversy.

Lawmakers will consider changing current law that allows people arrested for misdemeanor offenses to be strip searched, but only in cases with "reasonable cause" to believe that suspect may have a weapon or some contraband.

The proposed bill would expand the law to permit strip searches for all suspects.

The Tennessee Sheriff's Association is behind the bill.

"This is for the safety of the institution, the safety of the inmates and safety of the staff," Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long told Nashville's News 2.

Long said that changing state law would bring Tennessee in compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling last year.

The strip search would be a visual inspection and would only apply to those entering the general population area of the jail.

"What we're looking for are people who will go in from the booking area who are going to be housed in jail for a period of time. Those are the people we're trying to watch," said Long.

The bill would not apply to those with minor traffic violations.

Many against the bill weighed in on the WKRN Facebook page.

Opponents at a hearing this week also raised some questions about civil liberties.

The bill was put off for a couple of weeks while sponsors change some of the language.

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