Civil Case Law - Seventh Circuit

Calhoun v. DeTella , 319 F.3d 936 (7th Cir.2003): Male state prisoner sued prison employees under § 1983, alleging that a strip search conducted in the presence of female correctional officers constituted cruel and unusual punishment, as the officers  made explicit gestures and forced him to perform sexually provocative acts.  The court held that the complaint stated an Eighth Amendment claim.  The court noted, however, that the search of a male inmate by a female officer for a legitimate penolocial purpose would not violate the Eighth Amendment.

Stewart v. Lyles , 66 F.Appx. 18 (7th Cir.2003):  Two male officers entered the “tailorshop” where plaintiff worked and ordered all 130 male inmates present to strip while several female supervisors were present. The plaintiff informed them that absent an emergency, the search was unconstitutional.  The officers returned the next day, and subjected him to an anal cavity inspection.
The court held that a strip search performed in front of opposite sex is not per se unconstitutional, unless it is “calculated harassment unrelated to prison” needs.  The court permitted the plaintiff to proceed in both his Eighth Amendment claim, and his First Amendment claim for retaliation.

Dye v. Loman , 40 F. Appx. 993 (7th Cir. 2002):  Male inmate was strip searched in an observation cell in the presence of a team of female corrections officers, after the plaintiff repeatedly disobeyed their orders.  The court found the correctional employee’s action in strip searching a male prisoner in front of female employees was not cruel and unusual punishment.

Johnson v. Phelan , 69 F.3d 144 (7th Cir. 1995):  A male pretrial detainee filed § 1983 action against county officials, claiming female officers were permitted to monitor detainee while he was naked.  The court held that monitoring of naked prisoners by female officers was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.  The court further held that the female officers' monitoring of detainee while he was naked was not a basis for a due process or Eighth Amendment claim.

Canedy v. Boardman , 16 F.3d 183 (7th Cir.1994): A male inmate brought suit under § 1983, alleging that two female correctional officers strip searched him, although ten male corrections officers were nearby and available to conduct the search. He also alleged that female officers “regularly observe male inmates in a variety of settings typically considered private, including while they dress, shower, defecate and sleep in various states of undress.” The court reinstated the inmate’s claim, holding that inmate was “entitled to reasonable accommodation to prevent unnecessary observations of his naked body by female officers.”

Madyun v. Franzen , 704 F.2d 954 (7th Cir. 1983):  The court found on a motion for summary judgment that policy allowing frisk search of male inmates by female officers was reasonable.

Meriwether v. Faulkner , 821 F.2d 408 (7th Cir. 1987):  A male-to-female transgender inmate alleged that correctional officer repeatedly required her to strip in front of inmates and other officers, for the sole purpose of viewing her body.   The court found this was sufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim, as the searches were “maliciously motivated” and not related to security matters.

Smith v. Fairman, 678 F.2d 52 (7th Cir. 1982): The court found that female officers' frisk searches of male inmates are not unconstitutional, given the limited nature of the search and training given to correctional officers responsible for conducting the searches.

Jamal v. Smith , 2010 WL 375160 (C.D. Ill. Jan 22, 2010): A male plaintiff was pat searched by a female officer, while male officers were in the area.  The plaintiff was an orthodox Muslim, and therefore not permitted to have physical contact with a member of the opposite sex.  The court found that the Warden and the individual officer violated his First Amendment rights to freely express his religion, as the search was not reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest.  The court, however, dismissed the plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim, finding the search did not rise to the level of cruel and unusual punishment.

Perales v. Bowlin , 644 F. Supp. 2d 1090 (N.D. Ind. 2009):  A male inmate filed suit against jail officials, alleging First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations. The court stated that “[g]enerally, the Constitution does not preclude jail or prison policies allowing officers to conduct pat down searches of opposite sex prisoners; nevertheless, where the gravamen of the inmate's charge is that the cross-gender clothed body searches inflict great pain and suffering, the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain upon prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment.”  The court therefore dismissed his claim regarding an incident where a female officer watched inmate undress.  The court however, upheld his Eighth Amendment claim, alleging that a female officer fondled him during a pat search

Bullock v. Sheahan , 519 F. Supp. 2d 763 (N.D. Il. 2007): Male inmates challenged the constitutionality of jail’s policy of strip searching male inmates upon returning to the jail for out-processing after being ordered release.  Males were searched in a large non-private group setting, while females were searched in a location with privacy dividers among the inmates so they do not see each other.  The court found that the blanket strip search policy of all male potential discharges is not substantially related to the achievement of prison safety and security.  The court found both a Fourth Amendment violation for unreasonable searches, and a Fourteenth Amendment violation for Equal Protection.

Gary v. Sheahan , 1997 WL 201590 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 18, 1997):  Female inmates filed a class action suit challenging the jail’s policy of strip searching all female inmates who return to the jail from court for out-processing after their release.  One of the glass walls in the search room looks out onto a hallway where male and female employees can see them. The court allowed the Fourth Amendment claim to proceed, requiring more information as to whether the security risk was great enough to outweigh the detainee’s right to privacy.  The court also allowed a Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection claim to proceed, as similarly situated male inmates were not subjected to the same strip search procedure.