Male Prison Guards' Videotaping Strip Searches of Female Prisoners Unconstitutional

Policy at women's prison in Chicopee, Mass. found to be unconstitutional by federal judge

The policy at a women's prison in Chicopee, Massachusetts, under which male correctional officers routinely videotaped female prisoners' naked bodies while the women were being searched, has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

The judge agreed Tuesday with the female prisoners in the class action lawsuit that the policy at Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center violates basic human dignity and serves no legitimate purpose.

The lawsuit was filed in Sept. 2011 by former prisoner Debra Baggett against Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe, Jr. and Assistant Superintendent Patricia Murphy, who runs the WCC.

The ruling applies to the approximately 178 women who have been videotaped by a male officer during a strip search.

The next phase of the case will determine the appropriate monetary damages owed to the members of the class as a result of these violations. Any woman who was held at the WCC and videotaped by a male officer during a strip search since Sept. 15, 2008 is a member of the class.

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