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NY Inmates Illegally Strip Searched Win Legal Settlement

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By Kamika Dunlap on March 23, 2010 6:55 AM

It's the third time in decade that New York City has agreed to pay inmates for illegal strip searches, reaching a legal settlement in a class-action lawsuit. The suit settled for $33 million.

According to the Associated Press, the suit was filed by on behalf of people arrested on misdemeanor drug and weapons charges who were illegally strip searched at Rikers Island and other jails.

Inmates will get between $1,800 and $2,900, depending on how many times they were strip searched under the settlement.

The case included people arrested, but not convicted, between July 15, 1999 and Oct. 4, 2007.

As many as 150,000 such inmates have been searched at Rikers Island since 2002, lawyers for the inmates said.

According to papers filed in the case, in groups of 10 or 12, they were made to stand naked and have their armpits, mouths, ears, noses, navels, genital areas and anal cavities searched by correction officers.

Two women who were a part of the class action lawsuit claimed they were forced to have gynecological exams. According to the decision reached, the each will be entitled to $20,000 each for their alleged injury and suffering.

Some of the non-violent inmates were arrested for crimes like turnstile hopping and failing to pay child support were also illegally stripped searched. 

The court has already ruled that the practice violated the prisoners' constitutional rights.

The settlement however, brings closure to a lengthy process to improve both safety and privacy around the Department of Correction drug intake procedures.

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