Jail Criticized Over Strip Searches

February 1, 2006


The Cook County Jail is once again facing scrutiny over invasive strip searches.

A class-action suit filed today alleges jail and county health officials unnecessarily search detainees' vaginal and anal cavities.

The Cook County Sheriff's department says the procedure keeps the jail safe from weapons.

A spokesperson also says federal courts approve the searches.

But plaintiffs' attorney Michael Kanovitz says they're unwarrented.

"They're talking about procedures that have been approved for prisons, and the Cook County Jail is not a prison," he says. "The Cook County Jail is where people go while they're waiting to make bail. Prison is where people go when you know they're going to be there for a long time. And, there are several of these procedures that they're using that have not, in fact, have not been approved."

Cook County paid $7 million to settle a similar lawsuit in 2001.

More than 100,000 people are detained at the Cook County jail every year.