2019 Bills

HB 156: Limiting Body Cavity Searches

This bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. 

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

Body cavity searches are the most invasive form of legal searches that exist. And while law enforcement has their own standards in place, there are few state laws regulating how and when they can be used. House Bill 156 sponsored by Representative Kim Coleman fixes this by creating safety standards to protect the arrestee and the individual who is tasked with conducting the search.

The bill limits body cavity searches to situations where there is reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is hiding weapons or drugs on them. The person conducting the search must be a qualified medical professional who is the same gender as the arrestee and is not employed by the jail. It must be conducted in a sanitary manner in a facility with available medical staff and equipment. There must be at least two other jails staff present for the search, and everything must be documented.

Before the search is done, it must be approved by a chief administrator or supervisor of the jail, to ensure it is absolutely necessary. The jail staff has to consider the health of the arrestee as a factor in determining how to conduct a body cavity search, and they must inform the individual of the rights described in HB 156.

All of these measures are put in place to assure that this extremely intrusive procedure is conducted in a manner that reduces the risk of harm and upholds the rights of the individual.