I was horrified to learn that a bill authorizing strip searches of anyone booked into a county jail has passed in the Iowa House of Representatives by a vote of 93-5.
As a longtime member of Amnesty International, I have read hundreds of accounts of forced nudity and “strip searches” used as a form of intimidation, humiliation and torture by repressive governments and sadistic law enforcement personnel around the world.
Confiscation of their clothing is one of the first abuses many prisoners of conscience face, because it robs them of their dignity and makes them very aware of their vulnerability.
Such treatment is even more traumatic for female prisoners, for whom removal of their clothes not only violates their sense of modesty, but also suggests the threat of sexual assault or rape.
Although the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association may have good intentions of keeping contraband materials out of their jails with this legislation, a legal license to strip-search, without very narrow and strictly defined boundaries, is dangerous and easily could result in mistreatment of those detained in our state.
Surely there are better ways to keep illegal items out of our jails than making strip-searches legal and routine.
Please ask your state senator to oppose this legislation if it comes to a vote.