06 August 2013

Texas Still A State With An Abusive Criminal Justice System Problem

In multiple unrelated incidents, dash cams on police cars have caught Texas police officers conducting unreasonable body cavity searches in an unreasonable manner, allegedly searching for contraband drugs.

The cases also seem to have a strong "driving while black" arbitrary stop character to them.  The similarity and brazenness of the conduct in incidents involving officers not related to each other closely in time and place suggests that this is a larger pattern of conduct statewide in Texas.

The clarity of the police video evidence has led to criminal charges and employee disciplinary action against some of the perpetrator female police officers, in addition to lawsuits.  To some extent this corresponds with a growing shift in public opinion that sees strip searches and cavity searches for people who have committed only minor offenses, or have not been incarcerated, as abusive punishments rather than merely justifiable procedural matters.  As an attorney for one of the Texas women searched sums up the view:

"They basically raped them on the side of the road."

I expect that judges and legislators, despite the fact that challenges to these procedures have been rebuffed already in many cases, are going to eventually decide that this kind of invasive searching is not acceptable on the routine basis that it is used today.

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