This recent post discussed the Supreme Court's decision in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, in which strip searches were allowed for all those entering general population in jail. A new proposed California bill would bypass this process by creating more hurdles in the path of placing people in general population in the first place.
SB 1536, proposed by Senator Mark Leno -
would prohibit a person arrested and held in custody on a misdemeanor or infraction offense not involving weapons, controlled substances, or violence, from being confined in the general jail population unless a judge or magistrate has determined that the person does not qualify to be released on his or her own recognizance and that, after being given a chance to post bail, the person is not able to do so within a reasonable time. By changing the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
This strikes me as eminently sensible. I was not one of the commentators who were shocked by the Supreme Court decision. I think security reasons when entering general population require everyone to be searched. I also think that arbitrarily searching only some inmates would give rise to ugly profiling practices and accusations. This proposal is excellent in that it makes sure that non-dangerous folks don't get committed to general population in the first place, if it can be avoided, thus bypassing the problem entirely. Good job, Senator Leno!