The city of Boston and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts settled a class-action lawsuit this week, agreeing to pay $10 million to over 5,000 women who were wrongfully strip searched at a local jail over a period of four years. The women, many of whom were arrested for petty crimes including failure to return an overdue video game and selling goods without a permit, were also subjected to searches of their vaginas and rectums. The women were all arrested after normal business hours and were – for a variety of reasons – not released on bail and thus transported to the county jail where the searches took place.
Originally, the city and the sheriff’s department argued that the women had no bases for their suit. US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, however, found that the strip searches violated the constitutional rights of the women involved. Compensation will now be given to the women based on the types of crimes committed. Women who were arrested for misdemeanors will receive the largest payouts versus women arrested for sex or drug crimes.