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State

Inmates allege group strip search violated rights

EAST ST. LOUIS – Dozens of inmates have sued a southwestern Illinois jail, alleging their constitutional rights were violated when they were forced to endure group strip searches.

The 29 inmates at St. Clair County Jail allege they underwent multiple body cavity searches in front of other inmates and guards – a “cruel and unusual” punishment – and are seeking $10 million, according to the lawsuit filed late last week.

The lawsuit, filed in East St. Louis, contends the searches should been done in private, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

“Strip searches are unconstitutional unless the guard or officer has a reasonable suspicion that the detainee has a concealed weapon or contraband of some sort, which no detainee turned out to have any contraband,” the inmates claim in the lawsuit.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson couldn’t be reached by the newspaper. He didn’t immediately return messages left Tuesday by The Associated Press.

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