Throwback Thursday | Strip Search 101

First thing this morning at work we have an interesting conversation that leads to a throw-back to my days of working at the Sheriff's Office.

And the occasional days of strip-searching female inmates.

Boy am I glad those days are over!  But as a nod to that part of my past, I decided to repost the blog from 2007 that maintained it for posterity.

Strip Search 101 

Okay...I work at the Sheriff's Office. I mainly do the bookkeeping, but every once in a while, I get called on for a 'special' task. One I'd be more than happy to give up. But because of my lack of male genetailia....I get stuck with it.

Female prisoner comes in.....she's gotta be searched before she's stuck in a cell. Guess who gets to do it.

Yep, you guessed it.

Yours truly.

It wouldn't be so bad if all the female prisoners I've ever had to search was about 23 years old, slender, small-of-chest-and neatly trimmed in the undercarriage.  Not because I want something to look at, but because age-wise that puts us on even ground and because the rest of it helps to avoid uncomfortable questions that I'll hit upon later.

I'm not saying every woman has been the picture of disgust and poor hygeine....but overall--my experience searching women has not been pleasant.

And it's always [sarcasm] great [/sarcasm] when they're vulgar, aggressive, or have a sexual orientation other than my own....

At this point, I've only searched about a dozen women. And in those searches....I've learned some basic search procedures.

Keep in mind, I'm not properly trained to search anyone, but I've been given the rundown.

Here's the general rule:

Gloves. First and foremost. GLOVES!! For the love of God! Put some gloves on!

Next...I start at the top...pat out the hair, make sure there's nothing hidden in it anywhere, open your mouth...(note to self: hold breath)...the mouth should be empty.

Shirt off...bra off....

Guys, don't get yourself going...there's nothing fantasy-worthy here. It's work. It's professional. It's as little touching as possible, and what touching IS done, is done out of sheer need for the safety of our facility and our employees.

Okay, arms out.

If her breasts create any folds in must pick up and examine under that fold or around that fold. Check under arms, between breasts, etc.

Put your bra back on...shirt stays off. (Also check shirt and outerwear to make sure nothing is hidden in them or any pockets they might have.)

Shoes off.

Examine each shoe inside and out to make sure there's nothing hidden there.

Socks off. Check each sock to make sure nothing is in it.

Okay...pants down.

And the underoos.

Check pants and pockets. Empty pocket contents of everything, but leave it visible so that they can see nothing is being removed...unless it's a weapon or illicit substance...obviously that goes into an evidence baggie...never had that happen, though.

Okay...and once underwear are removed...the fun part. She has at most a bra on right now....she's uncomfortable...I'm uncomfortable.

But it gets worse.

Some of the women I've had to search exceeded 300 lbs. easily. This is the uncomfortable part.

How do you politely ask someone to lift a roll (or more than one roll) of body fat so that you can check between them?

And as if that's not bad enough...those're glad you have them, because you get to feel between those folds and layers. To top avoid touching in any inappropriate places, there's this technique we utilize.

The "Squat and Cough".

It's always been my frame of mind that if a woman has something hidden in her va-jay-jay or her back door, she can have it. This procedure helps to rule that out.

The woman is simply instructed to squat a little, legs apart...obviously I have to squat some, too, because I have to be where I can visibly ascertain if something peeks out when she coughs.


I don't even look at MYSELF down there so it's just a little less than comfortable for me to stare at another woman, especially since a couple of the women don't just cough (so it's always a good idea to hold your breath at this point in time, too).

Once that's done, and once all clothes and folds of skin have been checked, she gets dressed out and I gather up all pocket contents or finds to turn over to the intake officer to go into the prisoner's property or the money is put on the books for them.

So, that's pretty much it.

Gloves off.  Exhale and take a deep breath of fresh air.

And always remember to wash your hands...gloves or no gloves...just do it.

A High Stress Situation


Eight weeks apart.

But still twins.

That's what I dreamed about last night in one of my all-too-vivid and insanely stressful dreams.

It started simply enough, I was going to the Dr. for a routine postpartum checkup.  As I was standing at the desk to check-in they started to escort me to the hospital.  When I asked what was going on they responded that they needed to get me prepped for my cesarean.

Obviously I was confused.  I'd had my cesarean eight weeks earlier.  This was a follow-up.  There was some mistake.

The nurse acted like I clearly had pregnancy-brain and 'reminded' (aka educated) me that I had been pregnant with fraternal twins.  The little boy was delivered eight weeks earlier but they couldn't deliver the little girl at that time.  This cesarean was to deliver the little girl.

"It's a girl?" I asked repeatedly.

I have clothes for a boy.  I have experience with boys.  I could mentally prepare myself for a boy.  But a girl?  I couldn't get it to sink in.

"It's a girl?"  How could I have still been pregnant and not known it?

After the quickest, most routine (apparently outpatient) cesarean ever I had a daughter in my arms that I was completely unprepared for.  Even more, I had to tell everyone that I now had not just a new son, but a new daughter as well.  The nurses began my discharge paperwork, including a birth certificate completed with the name Ana Clayre, which is a lovely name, but even in my haze it didn't seem quite right.  Should we spell Ana with one N or two...I went to text Jason to let him know he's a Daddy again and to see how he wanted to spell the name when it dawned on me that he would not be game for Ana or Anna at all, we agreed to Amelia and so Amelia it must be.

I let the nurses know that we have to change her name, it can't be Ana, it has to be Amelia.  We erase the name but every time we write the new name down we keep writing Ana instead of Amelia.  Finally we get it right and Amelia and I are released from the hospital.  I walk out knowing that I have to start calling people, beginning with Jason, and letting them know about my little surprise.

And I knew no one would believe me.

I started snapping pictures of her so that I could send them as evidence but they all looked like Beckett. I knew that no one would believe that the pictures weren't just more pictures of him so I knew that I would have to wait until I was at home and had both of the babies together.

But before I could go home, I had to do what is obviously most important when you've just had a baby that you were completely not expecting.

I had to go shopping.  I had baby clothes at home but not a single one of them had even a stitch of pink on them and in my dream it was Saturday so Amelia had to have a pretty pink dress to wear to church the next day.

I don't remember much of my dream beyond that.  I think it was around that time that Jason & Beckett came back to bed after Beckett's bottle.  However, some things still live on.  As all of this was happening in my dream I had been calculating and trying to figure out how we were going to make this work.  How could we afford daycare for two babies?  Much less formula and diapers and wipes and clothes and everything else that goes along with it!

I feel much better today about the amount of money we've spent on formula in the past eight weeks (a number I was overly focused on yesterday) could SO have been worse!