By Pat Loeb

BORDENTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — The US Supreme Court has ruled that South Jersey prison officials had the right to strip-search a Bordentown man in 2005, even though he was never charged with a crime.

The court ruled in the case of Albert Florence, who was strip-searched when he was taken into custody after a traffic stop for what turned out to be a mistaken contempt-of-court citation.

Florence’s suit against Burlington County was one of several filed in the region.

Lower court rulings varied, but some prison authorities paid millions of dollars in damages and many changed the rules for strip searches, including New Jersey.  Subsequently, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and other local governments voluntarily limited strip searches.

Attorney Brooks DiDonato, who represents Burlington County, welcomed the ruling but says it won’t prompt the county to go back to the old rules.

“We’re certainly not going to operate contrary to the New Jersey Administrative Code,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

But that’s small comfort to Florence’s attorney, Susan Lask.  She says the suit sought protection from strip searches for all non-criminal offenders.

“The US Supreme Court’s majority just said, ‘Too bad, you’re all getting strip-searched,’ ” Lask said today.  She says she’ll ask for a rehearing.

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