rikers.jpgA recently settled lawsuit will likely result in fewer strip searches of prisoners at Rikers Island. The suit was filed on behalf of tens of thousands of New Yorkers jailed on misdemeanor charges. The Corrections Office settled a suit yesterday after being sued on behalf of thousands of inmates who were strip-searched at Rikers. The prisoners could collect $3,000 to $4,000 a piece as a result of the agreement. The suit was filed in reaction to the continued noncompliance regarding the practice of prisoner searches following a prior agreement reached in 2002, which stipulated that paper gowns would be provided to people undergoing a search.

Friday's agreement means that inmates at Rikers Island facing misdemeanor charges will no longer be strip searched. Lawyers representing that group said that there were approximately 150,000 people who fell into that category since 2002. Back-of-the-envelope math indicates that this could cost the city $450 - $600 million, although the lawyers involved said that they expect only about a quarter of the entitled recipients to collect their money.

This is the third time that the issue of strip-searches at Rikers has been settled. In 2001, the Giuliani administration agreed to pay $50 million in damages and end the practice of strip-searching prisoners accused of misdemeanors. The routine involves arrestees stripping in groups of 10 to 12, and undergoing examinations that included searches of anal cavities. In 2002, the city settled another lawsuit that would have paid strip-searched prisoners $750, or $1,000 to prisoners who were strip-searched twice. Five years later, the city has settled on paying strip-searched prisoners $3,000 to $4,000 a search. If you get strip-searched at Rikers Island, be sure to ask for a receipt.