SACRAMENTO–Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill authored by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to prohibit law enforcement officers of the opposite sex to be in sight of a strip search being conducted at any juvenile detention center in California.
After San Diego CityBeat reported the practice had occurred in local juvenile detention facilities in a 2014 article, Gonzalez introduced AB 303 to halt it. The measure has received broad support from both civil rights organizations and law enforcement groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, California Public Defenders Association, Los Angeles County Probation Officers Union, and Riverside Sheriffs’ Association.
“Like many people, I was shocked by media reports of a female juvenile detainee pepper sprayed multiple times simply because she refused to strip in front of officers of the opposite sex,” said Gonzalez. “This new law will reduce stress and conflict between inmates and law enforcement personnel and hopefully prevent this sort of situation from occurring again.”
AB 303 requires that all persons within sight of the inmate during a strip search or visual or physical body cavity search be of the same sex as the person being searched, except for physicians or licensed medical personnel. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate on Sept. 2, and unanimously in the Assembly a day later. The bill will take effect on January 1, 2016.