Prison Strip Searches and Why

About to go to prison and worried about prison strip searches? Don’t be worried at all; JailGuide is going to explain the importance of strip searches in prison and why they are important to your health and over-all well being.

A prison strip search is necessary to HELP keep guards, inmates and other staff safe. A properly conducted strip search in any jail or prison helps to keep drugs, weapons, notes, cell phones out of the prison system and out of the hands of inmates.

How is a Prison Strip Search Done?

Prison strip searches are performed on inmates coming back from court, after a fight, when a guard believes something was stolen or may be hiding something the inmate received from someone on the yard during rec-time.

How a strip search is performed on someone already incarcerated:

  • The inmate is stopped and questions
  • If the guard believes the inmate is concealing something, they are placed or moved into a private room or cage (40″x40″ metal cage)
  • While the guard is watching, the inmate is instructed to remove all clothing.
  • The guard will look inside the inmates mouth, behind their ears and if the inmates hair is long, will check through their hair.
  • Keistering: The inmate is told to squat down and cough several times. This ensures the inmate has nothing in them.
  • Once the guard is satisfied nothing was brought into the prison/jail, he/she will have the inmate get dressed.
  • A report is then written about the strip noting if anything was discovered
  • If nothing is found the inmate is sent on their way. If something is fond the inmate is then placed in solitary confinement (SHU) to await charges.

How a strip search is performed on a new inmate entering prison (reception usually)

Depending on the prison, most new inmates are brought into a central room where they are told to strip down and place their belongings in front of them. A guard will go through their belongings and place them in a plastic bag (their property).

  • Inmates as a group are led to a changing room where they will all be ordered to strip down. A number of guards will be in this room to monitor the inmates and for safety of the officers.
  • The inmate will place all of their street clothes in front of them to be searched by guards.
  • Inmates will then have to open their mouths so a guard can inspect if anything was tucked in their gums or under their tongue
  • The guard will have the inmate turn around and look through the back of the ears and through an inmates hair for contraband.
  • An overweight inmate will be told to lift their stomachs and other flab/folds.
  • All inmates (even old inmates) will be instructed to squat down and cough several times to ensure nothing was being keistered.
  • Dressed out: Inmates will be given prison issued clothes to wear. This includes underwear, shoes/boots, t-shirts, pants and shirt or jumpsuit.
  • Inmates are then returned to reception and assigned to a bunk or dorm room waiting to be assigned to a wing of the prison.

How a strip search is performed on someone arrested and entering a county jail:

When someone is first arrested and unable to make bail, they will be housed in the county detention center. They will most likely not be able to wear their street clothes as doing so often causes fights and theft. So a defendant will be dressed out

  • The defendant is brought into a private room and ordered to strip down.
  • A deputy will look in the mouth of the defendant to ensure no item was tucked in the gums or under the tongue.
  • The deptuy/guard will then look behind the defendant’s ears and check their hair for contraband.
  • The deputy will: if the defendant is male: have the defendant lift their scrotum. If the defendant is female: she would need to lift her breasts (if necessary) to ensure nothing is hidden.
  • Female defendants maybe probed vaginally by female deputies…
  • If the defendant is overweight, the deputy will have them pick up their stomachs or other folds.
  • The defendant (male and female) will be told to turn away from the officer, squat down and cough several times.
  • Getting dressed out: The defendant is given county jail issued clothes to wear. This may include sandals, pants and shirt or jumpsuit.

Putting a strip search into perspective; it’s basically to stop the trafficking of weapons and drugs into the prison system; and while I could care less about the dope – it was the weapons that worried me. While I had no mark on me, the danger was still heightened that you kept a very close eye on the things going on around you.

The drugs brought into a prison often lead to weapons. You need weapons to protect the drug flow, sales and protection from other inmates who want to take your drugs.

Strip Search ScaredSo you could imagine that with strip searches comes the calm knowing that no one person was armed so keep that in mind when and if you are strip searched. consider that is is for your safety and you’ll get through it.

Some may think that strip searches are degrading and that the necessity for them stems from the need to break the spirit of a prisoner.

While this may be the case in some forsaken hellholes with untrained and malicious staff – this is not necessarily the case of most modern prisons.

The very first thing about prison strip searches that you must understand is that the guard has nothing against you. The corrections officer simply wants to be able to go home without being injured, or their coworkers injured; or having any other inmate that they monitor injured as well. Put this into perspective when considering the amount of weapons that could be in any prison system if strip searches weren’t performed. So don’t take being strip searched as a personal affront.

Take for instance the necessity of the strip search itself. With so many drugs and weapons being brought into the system this is simply one tool to thwart the influx of these items. As well, the need for officer safety.

Most of my fellow inmates barely gave it a second thought – but as a thinking man, and basically all there really is time for, I questioned the need for my own safety.

11 thoughts on “Prison Strip Searches and Why”

  1. strip searches were always the worst for me. I hated having to get undressed in front of a group of guys. now there are women guards and they are almost as mean as the men. women guards can see you in your boxer shorts but if need be they can also do a strip search on you. times are tough

  2. nice article provide the actual information regarding prison strip searches, i think its helpful for cop’s also.

  3. I never thought of strip searches this way. I always thought of having a strip search done to see what contraband an inmate had and it being for the safety of the guards. Very nice way of putting this into perspective for personal safety.

  4. How come they dont just use those xray chairs to see what an inmate is hiding? I think it would be less degrading than having to strip down in front of a group of other men.

    • I believe those chairs take a while to make everyone pass through. And when you are dealing with 50 – 100 inmates to process it would really slow things down. Plus, I am sure there are a few out there who think the radioactive levels are too high and that this was degrading as well. You can’t please everyone. But, I still firmly believe strip searching everyone on the way in protects other inmates as well.

  5. I think it is absolutely degrading being forced to strip down in front of another man. Why don’t they simply use an xray chair and have the prisoner sit and be xrayed? I think technology has come around where we don’t have to be doing that to each other.

    • Well John, because some very ingenious prisoners will create weapons made from plastic (shaving handles, plastic utensils, pen tubes) and then keister them only to stab the life out of someone. It’s not only horrific but remember, the shiv was in their ass – do you really think they took the time to wash it prior to jamming it in someones neck? Sorry, but being strip searched keeps everyone safe in my opinion.

      • you really put strip searches into perspective. i have never been to a prison or a jail and really dont know how i would feel comfortable showing my genitalia to other men.

    • An inspiring article for those of us that will be turning ourselves in shortly. I need to report in a couple of weeks and I can tell you I am rather shy. I’ll be downloading your book later today to get more information but now that I understand the necessity of being strip searched I am more comfortable about having it done. Thanks again for the input.

  6. I totally agree with your view on prison strip searches. I think it is the one thing that kept quite a few people alive, at least when I was locked up. Quite often the guards would find something muled but it was often drugs – but it did keep people from trying to bring weapons into the prison, not that they didnt have enough time to make a shank in their cells. Good article!~

  7. Hello Pete and thanks for the post. I too was subjected to constant strip searches when they were moving me from facility to facility. It was pretty awful in the beginning but you just sort of get used to them. I like the way you put it into words on how it keeps the rest of the facility safer. Thanks again.


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