CNN reported that a police department in Washington is facing a lawsuit over violating the rights of inmates. The reporting details that 11 women and 1 man are suing a police department over alleged instances where the inmates—who were all arrested on suspicion of drunk driving—were recorded while they were undressing and using the toilet.
The lawsuit alleges that the recording violated the inmate’s rights to privacy, unlawful search and seizure and dignity. The lawsuit also alleges that the plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of privacy while they were being recorded. The lawsuit further alleges that the reason that the police engaged in the taping was to gain “arousal or personal gratification”.
The police deny the allegations. They maintain that the suspects were required to change into clothes provided for them before their mug shots were taken. The recording, the police allege, was for safety purposes. They claim that the recording is, in part, to ensure that the suspects weren’t hiding anything.
The lawsuit alleges that the officers made inappropriate comments to the suspects, including remarks about their bodies and, in one case, “I like redheads”.
What Are Your Rights?
In a situation where you’ve been arrested on suspicion of a crime, it can be difficult to assert your rights. First, many of the rights that people think they have—such as the right to a phone call—are really more inventions of movies and those rights are really privileges. Second, in a station where you are being arrested, police and the other workers at the detention facility can be very intimidating, rude, aggressive, and, in some cases, they may engage in outright harassment.
There are ways, however, that citizens can fight back against this. Monitoring in jails is widespread for obvious reasons, but people who are arrested still do have the right to be treated according to the law. Being arrested, particularly when you haven’t been charged with anything, doesn’t mean that you lose all your rights.
An attorney may be able to help in these situations. Any evidence of the abuse that you can obtain is useful. The attorney will also be able to demand records, including video, if needed, from the police department so that they can investigate the issue. You will have to consult with an attorney before they will be able to determine whether they want to take your case.