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Modesty No Match for Seventh Circuit

Having seen a panel of judges in the 7th Circuit uphold the right of prison officials to conduct strip searches, interfaith agencies in Washington D.C., are requesting an en banc review of the ruling. An amicus brief filed last week with the federal court, which is headquartered in Chicago and encompasses Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, contends that religious grounds are sufficient to preclude prisoners from submitting to the practice. It is asking for the court’s full complement of 11 judges to consider the appeal.


Three members of the court rendered a split verdict last month, reversing a lower-court ruling that prison officials violated Constitional protections when they compelled female inmates to undergo a strip search at the Lincoln Correctional Center in 2011. Male correctional officers were present and the female prisoners were required to expose their body cavities as part of the exercise. The panel revered a lower-court ruling, citing precedent that the prisoners had no right to ‘visual privacy’ under the terms of their sentences.