Anyone who has done time in prison can tell you that strip searches are humiliating and degrading. Usually done after a visit, inmates are required to strip, open their mouth and lift their tongues up, take out dentures if they have them, run their fingers through their hair while shaking their heads, pull their ears down, lift their feet, squat, pull their butt cheeks apart and cough. If you are obese, you are asked to lift up your stomach folds. If you are female you are required to lift up your breasts. If you are a female who is menstruating, you must remove your sanitary napkin or tampon, squat, pull your butt cheeks open and cough, blood be damned. Often strip searches are conducted by more than one officer in the presence of other inmates undergoing the same procedure, a sort of an assembly line of degradation.
As bad as strip searches are, body cavity searches are horrific and are tantamount to rape. Although rare, body cavity searches do occur in prison in effort to find contraband items. But the war on drugs promotes strip searches and body cavity checks outside of prisons. Body cavity searches are also done by police departments, and not only under extreme circumstances.
The media has been reporting the egregious behavior of officers of the Deming, New Mexico police department, and the lawsuit that follows it. David Eckert, who was stopped for a traffic violation, was subjected to several anal searches because an officer seeing Eckert clench his butt cheeks believed Eckert must have been hiding drugs in his rectum. Apparently a judge thought so, too, as he signed a warrant for Eckert to be probed rectally. But the story doesn’t end there. In his blog, Anthony Papa, media relations manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, tells of Eckert’s nightmarish encounter, and reveals his own experience that has left him