Strip Search Lawsuit Moves Forward

A class action lawsuit filed initially by two former prisoners of a Chicopee, Massachusetts, women’s jail will again go before a federal judge Tuesday. The plaintiffs claim strip searches were routinely videotaped by male guards, and they say that violated their constitutional rights.

According to court documents, when a prisoner is moved from the regular jail to the segregation unit, they are strip searched and the entire process is videotaped. In their complaint, the women say a male guard often operated the camera.

In response, attorneys for Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe and jail superintendent Patricia Murphy argue this is a rare occurrence. They say a female employee should be used unless there is an emergency or one isn’t available. In those cases, the male videotaping the search must turn his back during the process.

Both sides asked Judge Michael Ponsor to rule in their favor – even before a trial. Ponsor is scheduled to hear arguments on those motions in Springfield Tuesday morning.