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Bill would authorize strip searches without probable cause

To Protect and to ServeA bill proposed by the Iowa House Judiciary Committee would effectively authorize strip searches of anyone accused of committing a crime – without any probable cause.

House Study Bill 33 specifies that, in general, any person housed in the general population of a jail or municipal holding facility may be subject to a strip search. Currently, Iowa law requires there must be probable cause a person is concealing a weapon or contraband before subjecting him or her to a strip search.

State Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-Boone) is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The bill, if approved, would also provide that a person who has been arrested for a scheduled violation or a simple misdemeanor and who is not housed in the general population of a jail or municipal holding facility shall not be subjected to a strip search without the aforementioned reasonable suspicion. In those cases, when a strip search is conducted, the proposed legislation requires a written report be prepared.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Iowa Association For Justice, and the Justice Reform Consortium are opposed to the bill. The Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association has declared its support for the proposed legislation.