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Enough of Zero Tolerance yet?

June 28th, 2009

In a previous blog entry I addressed the Milpitas High School Official’s decision to bar from high school graduation ceremonies a student who had broken up an on school campus fight in the name of maintaining the integrity of the school district’s zero tolerance policy on campus violence.

As it realtes to another zero tolerance policy the United States Supreme Court now has now ruled in the case of Safford Unified School District v. Redding on school campus drug possession. The case concerns Savanna Redding who was a 13 year old honor student at the time that she was strip searched after being identified by another student as possibly being in possession of Ibuprofen. The now 19 year old Ms. Redding recalled being stripped to her underwear, being made to move her bra from side to side, and further being made to open her legs and pull out her underwear, all in the name of the school’s zero tolerance policy regarding drugs.

The issue was framed by the United States Supreme Court in terms of whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits suspicious public school officials from conducting a strip search of a student suspected of possession or distributing drugs on campus in violation of school policy?

Courts generally have taken a heavy handed approach when dealing with issues concerning the scourge of the American drug problem. As the father of three daughters familiar with the sensitivities of young women, and a person of generally even keeled temperament, I can unequivocally say that in my opinion any near naked search of a 13 year old girl by suspicious school administrators is clearly excessive and unacceptable. What could those callous administrators have been thinking?

Enough already with zero tolerance, zero judgment, and maybe even a new direction for school culture in the United States?  Thankfully, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the high school officials violated Ms. Redding’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, writing that the content of the suspicion failed to match the degree of intrusion.

If you or someone you know has question regarding criminal justice issues and youth please contact the San Jose criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Bernard P. Bray.

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