[Sarah] Boaz’ expected trip to work Wednesday morning never happened. Because of her unpaid ticket, the Richland Hills City Marshal was waiting at her house with a warrant for her arrest. “I’m like, nobody puts out a bench warrant after 60 days. Why would you do that? You wouldn’t do that.”Ms. Boaz may perhaps be forgiven for failing to see the distinction between being forced to strip in the jail and a "strip search." The Supreme Court's ruling last year left the decision to strip search jailed defendants up to the discretion of localities, but the decision leaves no recourse when that discretion is abused. Putting drivers through that ordeal for failure to pay small-time traffic fines seems like overkill.
Even when Boaz arrived at the jail, in handcuffs, she still didn’t think it was real. Then a female officer started giving her instructions. She remembered the officer saying, “’I’m going to need you to undress. I’m going to need you to stand against the wall. Please don’t step in front of this white box, or I’ll take that [as]… aggressive toward me. Obviously I am going to jail.”
CBS 11 News learned being stripped down is standard procedure for anyone brought to the jail in North Richland Hills. In an email to CBS 11 News Friday morning, the North Richland Hills Police Department said though Boaz was forced to undress, the search is not considered a strip search. In that email they said, “She was given a dress out. Before they go into the cell they are taken by a detention officer of the same sex to a private room with no cameras. They have to remove all clothing and they are given a jumpsuit. The officer searches their clothes, at no time does the officer touch them.”
Richland Hills is small enough that it only has one marshal. Warrants for unpaid tickets don’t sit around for months, like they might in larger cities.
Attorney Jason Smith told CBS 11 News though, there’s nothing requiring the city to put people in jail. “The constitution doesn’t keep the government or government officials from using common sense. Unfortunately, some police officers, some governments get overly aggressive because they want that ticket revenue.”
Another question comes to mind: Is it a good or bad thing that the room where strip searches are performed had no camera? Eliminating cameras there might prevent voyeurism on the part of other jailers, but it also means any potential abuses during the process wouldn't be documented. What do readers think?