Breaking News:EVENT: No Time Like the Present: Drug Policy Reform is More Urgent Than Ever

Were You Strip-Searched After a Minor Bust in New York City Between 1999 and 2007? There Could Be $$$$ Waiting for You

As the Chronicle story below reports, New York City is about to pay yet again for unlawfully strip-searching minor offenders, including people busted for public pot possession. If this includes you, it just might behoove you to contact the law firm handling the lawsuit in question, Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff, and Abady. Here's the story: Law Enforcement: New York City to Pay Out $33 Million for Unlawful Strip Searches For the third time in the past ten years, New York City has been forced to pay big bucks for subjecting non-violent prisoners—including minor marijuana offenders—to illegal strip searches. In a settlement announced Monday, the city announced it had agreed to pay $33 million to settle the most recent lawsuit stemming from the illegal strip searches. The settlement applies to roughly 100,000 people who were strip-searched after being charged with misdemeanors and taken to Rikers Island or other city jails. These were people who were arrested and strip-searched between 1999 and 2007. In 2001, under the Giulani administration, the city settled a similar lawsuit on behalf of 40,000 people strip-searched prior to arraignment for $40 million. In 2005, the city agreed to pay millions of dollars more to settle a lawsuit on behalf of thousands of people illegally strip-searched at Rikers and other city jails between 1999 and 2002. The most recent settlement came from a lawsuit filed in 2005 by a local law firm. In 2007, the city acknowledged wrongdoing and agreed to hire monitors to ensure that the practice was stopped. But the settlement includes at least 19 people who had been illegally strip-searched after 2007. Richard Emery, law lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the New York Times it had been settled law since 1986 that it was unconstitutional to require people accused of minor crimes to submit to strip searches. "The city knew this was illegal in 1986, they said it was illegal and they stopped in 2002, and they continued to pursue this illegal practice without justification," he said. "We hope the settlement constitutes some semblance of justice." It is expected that about 15% of those illegally strip searched, or 15,000 people, will file claims seeking damages. If that's the case, each plaintiff who files would collect about $2,000, although at least two women subjected to involuntary gynecological exams will receive $20,000. The law firm will get $3 million for its efforts. Emery said many of those strip-searched had been charged with misdemeanors like shoplifting, trespassing, jumping subway turnstiles, or failure to pay child support. Others were small-time marijuana offenders. Under New York law, pot possession is decriminalized, but the NYPD has a common practice of ordering people to empty their pockets—which you are not required to do—and then charging them with public possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. David Sanchez, 39, of the Bronx, was one of the people strip-searched after a minor pot bust. He said he was searched twice by officers after being arrested in a stop and frisk outside a friend's apartment, but after he was arraigned and taken to Rikers Island, jail guards demanded he submit to a strip-search. "I was put into a cage and told to take off my clothes," he said Monday, describing how he had to squat and spread his buttocks. "It was horrifying, being a grown man. I was humiliated." "I don’t know why it was done," Emery said, "but it seems like it was a punishment, a way of showing the inmates who is in charge." And now the good burghers of New York City will pay yet again for the misdeeds of their public servants. Will the third time be the charm? Check back in a few years.
New York City, NY
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Strip-Searches in New York

Apparently after three promises of reform, someone in New York City has decided that these depraved practices are the cost of doing business. And it's the taxpayers' money, not the loss of anyone of the responsible authorities. Is it possible that there could be criminal charges against the ranks who order these practices? If some people actually lose THEIR freedom over these repeated outrages, that's what will stop them.


I find it amazing that it has been known to be illegal since 1987, yet is still happening, as late as 2007? I guess it just goes to show us that if the cops do something illegal, it means nothing! And there is no accountability to anyone! It sounds like that would be good for their job security, anyway!

And, why in the heck does it take a civil lawsuit to expose the illegal activity? Corruption at its best, maybe?!

??? How do I file for the lawsuit???

I only recently found out about this lawsuit. I was illegally stripped searched back in the late 90's for a minor pot possessions charge . at that time i was illegally stripped searched twice once at the precinct house and again in central booking . i knew then it was wrong but felt what could i do ? now i found out there was a settlement on behalf of the victims of this blatant abuse of power buy the NYPD . How do i go about filing for the lawsuit for compensation for the illegal actions that the the NYPD has doe to me ? Any advice on how to go about this is greatly appreciated thank you one love .Edmund.B

I was illegally strip-searched on Rikers Island

What do I do to make a lawsuit about being strip-searched on Mika's Island illegally

strip searched on rikers island over 100 times

i was strip searched numerous times while detained on rikers island...sometimes as much as 3 times a day and while being video recorded with women correction officers present. i need an attorney thats willing to fight for a settlement for me as this has caused a great deal of mental anguish and anxiety to myself. please , if you are an attorney thats willing to fight for whats right or know of one that will...please call me , my name is Cassiano and i can be reached at 917-200-5675 .


I was strip searched in 2000-2007 multiple times

Hi I was strip searched every time I went through the system in NYC. I am only hearing about this now as I was released from prison in 2013 and did not get off of parole until recently. The charges during the strip searches I speak of we're all misdemeanor crimes (not the felony I went away for.) am I entitled to compensation?

strip search

I was one of those who was illegally stripped searched.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School