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$30,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Excessive Strip Search Suit

by David M. Reutter

Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County Prison (LCP) paid $30,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging a female pre-trial detainee was strip searched four times over her three-day stay at the facility.

Rebecca Brown was arrested on March 25, 2016 and taken to LCP. She was strip searched upon being booked into the jail and again a short time later. Before she appeared before a judge on March 28 to request that her bench warrant be lifted, she was strip searched a third time. The judge subsequently lifted the warrant and ordered Brown’s release.

Rather than being promptly freed, she was taken back to LCP. Once again, she was strip searched and then had to wait five hours to be released. Her complaint also alleged that she was deprived of a CPAP machine at LCP to treat her sleep apnea.

Brown filed suit in March 2018 alleging violations of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Her complaint accused LCP guards of intentionally conducting the strip searches “in a manner that was unreasonable and excessive under the circumstances.” It further claimed that Lancaster County had a policy or custom of conducting “unreasonable ‘strip’ searches of persons without justification and after being released by a judge.”

A $30,000 settlement was reached in January 2019. Brown was represented by Thomas Bruno II with the law firm of Abramson & Denenberg, PC. See: Brown v. Lancaster County, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Penn.), Case No. 5:18-cv-01229-JLS. 


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Related legal case

Brown v. Lancaster County