United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
September 12, 1983
EVANGELINE ROSCOM, PLAINTIFF,
CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Evangeline Roscom ("Roscom") originally sued the City of
Chicago ("City"), Cook County ("County") and certain City and
County officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983")
charging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and
Fourteenth Amendments.*fn1 This action remains pending against
the County defendants.*fn2 Roscom seeks compensatory damages
of $100,000, and she also asks punitive damages against the
This action has been tried on the facts (to which the
parties have stipulated) without a jury. In accordance with
Rule 52(a) this Court finds the facts specially and states its
conclusions of law thereon in the following Findings of Fact
and Conclusions of Law.
Findings of Fact ("Findings")
1. Roscom was arrested April 5, 1980 by City police officers
pursuant to a legal arrest warrant charging deceptive practice
(Stip. ¶ 6). Roscom was then taken to the City facility at 1121
South State Street and questioned as to checks Roscom had
written that had not been honored by her bank (Stip. ¶ 7).
2. Roscom was fingerprinted and detained at the City
facility for several hours. She then experienced severe chest
pains and was taken to the Mercy Hospital emergency room for
examination (Stip. ¶ 8). After the examination she was returned
to the City facility (Stip. ¶ 9).
3. On April 6 Roscom (still at 1121 South State Street) was
placed in the custody of the County Sheriff (the "Sheriff")
and taken before a judge for the setting of bail (Stip. ¶ 10).
When Roscom was unable to post bail, the Sheriff transferred
her to the County jail facility at 26th and California,
Chicago, Illinois (the "County Jail") (Stip. ¶ 11). Upon
Roscom's arrival at the County Jail, pictures were taken, some
was completed and she was then placed in a County Jail cell
(Stip. ¶ 12).
4. After several hours Roscom was taken from the County Jail
cell to a room with other females, all of whom were ordered to
line up in single file and take off their clothes for a search
(Stip. ¶ 13). Roscom removed her clothes and proceeded to where
the matron was. After a frontal visual search by the matron
Roscom was instructed to turn around, spread her legs and bend
over for a visual genital area search (Stip. ¶ 14). Only women
were in the room when the searches took place (Stip. ¶ 17). At
no time during either search did anyone touch Roscom (Stip. ¶
16). After the search was completed Roscom picked up her
clothes, took a shower and was taken back to a County Jail cell
(Stip. ¶ 15).
5. County's Department of Corrections General Order 78-23
governs body searches (Stip. ¶ 18 and Ex. 1):
B. An inmate is subject to a search of his or
her person, either clothed or unclothed, when
there is reasonable cause to believe the inmate
may have contraband concealed on his or her
person. Such searches or inspections may also be
a routine requirement for inmate movement into or
out of certain high security risk areas.
1. An unclothed body search includes visual
inspection of all body areas, including the
anal and genital areas; therefore, correctional
personnel will not conduct unclothed body
inspection of an inmate of the opposite sex.
This does not preclude routine search of
clothing worn by an inmate without regard to
the sex of the inmate or of personnel making
2. Rectal and vaginal searches or inspections
of an inmate may not be made by anyone other
than qualified medical personnel.
6. In support of the claimed reasonableness of the search in
this cue, the County defendants have stated the procedure for
processing pretrial detainees such as Roscom:
(a) All such detainees are transported to the
County Jail without segregation as to their
(b) Upon arrival at the County Jail, such
detainees are segregated by sex into holding
(c) As part of their processing of the
detainees into the Jail, detainees are visually
strip searched and showered and their personal
7. Roscom argues less intrusive means such as metallic
sensory devices are available to vindicate County's interest
in security, so that the visual strip search is arbitrary and
Conclusions of Law ("Conclusions")
1. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559-60, 99 S.Ct. 1861,
1884-85, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979) (citations and footnotes
omitted) is the seminal authority to be considered in any
determination whether a visual strip search of a pretrial
detainee is unlawful under the Fourth Amendment.
The test of reasonableness under the Fourth
Amendment is not capable of precise definition or
mechanical application. In each case it requires
a balancing of the need for the particular search
against the invasion of personal rights that the
search entails. Courts must consider the scope of
the particular intrusion, the manner in which it
is conducted, the justification for initiating
it, and the place in which it is conducted. . . .
A detention facility is a unique place fraught
with serious security dangers. Smuggling of
money, drugs, weapons, and other contraband is
all too common an occurrence. And inmate attempts
to secrete these items into the facility by
concealing them in body cavities are documented
in this record, App. 71-76, and in other
cases. . . . That there has been only one
instance where an MCC inmate was discovered
attempting to smuggle contraband into the
institution on his person may be more a testament
to the effectiveness of this search technique as
a deterrent than to any lack of interest on the
part of the inmates to secrete and
import such items when the opportunity arises.
We do not underestimate the degree to which these
searches may invade the personal privacy of
inmates. Nor do we doubt, as the District Court
noted, that on occasion a security guard may
conduct the search in an abusive fashion. . . .
Such an abuse cannot be condoned. The searches
must be conducted in a reasonable manner. . . .
But we deal here with the question whether visual
body-cavity inspections as contemplated by the
MCC rules can ever be conducted on less than
probable cause. Balancing the significant and
legitimate security interests of the institution
against the privacy interests of the inmates, we
conclude that they can.
2. Wolfish teaches the institution's need for the search must
be balanced against the invasion of the pretrial detainee's
privacy interest. It does not validate all visual strip
searches as a matter of law — but it does not necessarily
invalidate them either. See Tikalsky v. City of Chicago,
687 F.2d 175
, 181-82 (7th Cir. 1982); Roscom, 550 F. Supp. at
3. Applying Wolfish to this case,*fn4 this Court concludes
the search of Roscom at the County Jail was not
constitutionally unreasonable in Fourth and Fourteenth
(a) Wolfish does not require a showing of
probable cause for visual strip searching of
pretrial detainees (441 U.S. at 560, 99 S.Ct. at
(b) None of the regularized and
nondiscriminatory procedures (Findings 4 and 6)
is unreasonable as applied to all pretrial
(c) Irrespective of the crimes charged against
pretrial detainees, County may reasonably
consider any of them could be carrying weapons or
contraband, either brought with the detainee into
the County Jail or procured from other persons in
the holding cell.
(d) County's interest in the security of its
Jail is legitimate. Its visual strip search of
all pretrial detainees, carried out (1) by
same-sex personnel (2) in a separate room (3)
without in any way touching the detainees, is
reasonable under the balancing test of
(e) Roscom's suggested alternative of
electronic sensory devices would not be effective
to find non-metallic contraband such as drugs.
Moreover, it has not been established that
availability of a less intrusive alternative
controls in determining whether the method used
by law enforcement personnel is reasonable.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 559-60 n. 40, 99 S.Ct. at 1885
4. Because Roscom, had not yet been convicted of the charged
offense, the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment was inapplicable to her. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
at 535 n. 16, 99 S.Ct. at 1872 n. 16.
5. Roscom has neither alleged nor proved the strip search
was other than routine. It was not imposed as punishment for
some reason. Of course, not every detention procedure utilized
to further the security of a facility is punishment. Because
the strip search procedure utilized in this case was a
legitimate one to insure security of the County Jail, no
violation of the Due Process Clause is implicated. See
Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 536-40, 99 S.Ct. at 1872-74.
For the reasons stated in the Findings and Conclusions,
Roscom has failed to establish any constitutional violation by
any of the County defendants. Hence she is not entitled to any
recovery under Section 1983. This action is dismissed on the