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$2.16 Million Settlement in Dauphin Pennsylvania Jail Strip Search Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit alleging illegal strip searches occurred regularly at Pennsylvania’s Dauphin County Prison (DCP) has been settled for $2.16 million. The class claimed they were arrested on minor charges and strip searched without any particularized suspicion that they possessed weapons or other contraband.

The lawsuit was filed after 125 people were arrested at a local radio event on an undeveloped island during a 2007 Labor Day “camp-out with the DJs.” Those arrested were charged with violating a law that requires a permit for gatherings of 20 or more people in a city park to listen to music, which is equivalent to a traffic ticket.

Of those arrested, more than 50 people were unable to post bond. They were taken to DCP and strip searched. That mass strip search exposed DCP’s blanket strip search policy, resulting in the lawsuit.

The class consists of persons arrested between September 16, 2005, through March 12, 2008, on charges of “misdemeanors, summary offenses, violations of probation or parole or intermediate punishment, civil commitments, or minor crimes who were strip searched upon their entry into” DCP.

Under the settlement, DCP will establish a settlement fund of $2,160,500. Class members, which are expected to be 9,000 people, will each receive $1,400. Class representatives Jennifer Reynolds and Ashley McCormick will each receive $15,000 while class representative Devon Shepard will receive $10,000.

The five attorneys who represented the class will receive around $650,000 in fees. “It is a fair agreement,” said class attorney Alan Ross.

A separate lawsuit is pending against the city of Harrisburg for illegally detaining the out-of-state residents arrested at the island party. That suit is in the discovery stage. See: Reynolds v. County of Dauphin, USDC, M.D. Pennsylvania, Case NO: 1:07-CV-01688. The settlement in this case is available on PLN’s website.

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Related legal case

Reynolds v. County of Dauphin