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Settlement Reached for New Yorkers Illegally Strip-Searched

HeadlineJan 10, 2001

In New York, the Giuliani administration has agreed to pay up to $50 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of tens of thousands of people who were illegally strip-searched after being arrested for minor offenses, many of which fell under New York’s crackdown on “quality of life” violations. The searches were conducted by jail guards in Manhattan and Queens during ten months in 1996 and 1997. Many of the victims of the illegal searches were first-time offenders who were arrested for minor infractions like loitering, disorderly conduct or subway offenses. The $50 million class action settlement could be payed out to more than 50,000 people who were arrested during the ten-month period. The lawsuit recounts several cases of men and women with no arrest records who said they felt humiliated as they were ordered to disrobe, to lift their breasts or genitals for visual inspections, and to squat and cough. The settlement would be the largest in a civil rights suit against New York City and appears to be one of the largest civil rights settlements against a municipality anywhere in the country.

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