On April 5, 2022, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Benjamin D. Morgan approved a form intended to notify “anyone who was admitted to the Cumberland County Correction Facility from May 8, 2018 through to the current date for non-indictable offenses and strip searched upon entry to the jail” that they may receive compensated if the County loses or settles a class action lawsuit filed on their behalf.

The case arises out of a 2020 lawsuit in which four men who were arrested in 2019 and 2020 on non-indictable offenses claimed that they were required to undress in correction’s officers’ presence. In a December 3, 2021 court filing, attorneys for the four men said that they filtered though data provided by the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts and found 3,974 inmates who may have also been unlawfully strip searched after having been arrested for non-indictable offenses.

In October 2020, the County moved to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that jail officials were entitled to qualified immunity because the law regarding strip-searches had not been clearly established and that “a good faith belief exists regarding the actions taken.” Judge Jean Chetney denied the County’s dismissal motion on January 8, 2021.

This is not the first time the jail has been sued over alleged illegal strip searches. According to a December 11, 2008 news article, “Strip-searched Cumberland County Jail Inmates may get share of settlement,” by Matt Dunn of the South Jersey Times, the county created a $4.5 million fund for inmates who were strip-searched between January 9, 2004, and December 1, 2006.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to paff@pobox.com