Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders

There have been cases across the United States that have resulted in judicial decisions that influenced policy and procedure in courts and prisons. The Florence vs. Burlington County case involved Albert Florence suing the government for infringing his Fourth Amendment Rights (Oyez, 2012). Stakeholders were Florence, the petitioner and Burlington County Board, the defendants, the public, law enforcers, the police union, and the police department. This paper examines this case and proposes policies and procedures governing searches of suspects.

Case Summary

Florence was arrested while escaping from law enforcement personnel in New Jersey, Essex County, and was accused of obstructing justice as well as possessing a firearm. He agreed to the charges and was asked to pay a monthly fine. After he failed on his payments and did not come to the hearing, a warrant of arrest was issued for him in 2003. He cleared the unfinished balance within that week but was not removed from the database. In 2005, while in Burlington County, Florence was stopped in their car by state police (Oyez, 2012). With an outstanding warrant in the database, he was apprehended and detained for almost a week at the County Detention Center in Burlington. He was then taken to a correctional facility in Essex County. In both facilities, the petitioner underwent intrusive searches.

He was instructed to strip naked before an officer who would look for body marks, contraband, and wounds: they were searched in all body openings. This was done needless of conditions of the arrest, offense, suspect’s behavior, or criminal’s history. Florence was told to lift his genitals and cough while squatting. He was permitted to the facility and released after dropping his charges the next day. Florence sued the government bodies that operated jails, a warden, and some defendants for violation of his Fourth Amendment Rights. He maintained that minor offenders should not undergo all these inspections as part of the intake routine. The court upheld that officials can do strip searches on persons arrested for any crime before letting them in jail even if there is no suspicion of them carrying contraband.

Types of Searches

There are different types of searches done in prisons: they may be regular or once-a-while types. They are conducted to ensure the security of prisoners, visitors, and prison staff. The searches that were done included cell checks, body cavities, and mail searches (Nir, 2019). In cell checks, the warden will go into a prisoner’s cell and search for items that an inmate is not supposed to have, including drugs, weapons, phones, cash, and other prohibited items. These searches are done where there is suspicion of possessing these illegal things. Prisoners do not give consent as they are done without their permission.

The body cavity is an intrusive search whereby prison wardens search inmates’ vaginal or anal holes to look for contraband. Officers of the same gender as the inmate do this search in a private area with another officer of the same sex present. (Gorsuch & Rho, 2019). In mail searches, wardens search letters for illegal things mailed to prisoners. Guards search visitors at the entry and exit points of the facilities and carry out a body and personal items check on everybody that comes in. A search is mandatory before any suspect is admitted into the correctional facility or jail.

Policies and Procedures

As a warden in a correctional facility, one can do different searches depending on the nature of the arrests. As a policy, suspects of major and minor offenses can undergo searches differently (Laux, 2019). A person arrested for traffic offenses need not experience a body cavity search. Instead, such a person can go through a typical strip-down search without being touched. Once in jail, body searches can be done if necessary to maintain order or security. Body cavity searches can be undertaken in case of significant offenses. This is because drug smugglers can hide their goods in body parts (Timofeeva, 2019). Some swallow them while others can insert them into the private areas. However, these body cavity searches need to be regulated by law and done by authorized or trained medical doctors who have identification badges.

All visitors coming into prisons need to undergo routine checks to comply with prison rules and make sure that nothing illegal gets into jail cells. If it is suspected that the inmate has given something illegally to the visitor, the visitor will be searched at the exit point. This is well achieved if the searching party observes the visitor’s privacy. Mail searches are crucial in preventing wrong and dangerous information from getting to prisoners. This search can be regulated so that whatever is found in the letter, if essential, is kept until the prisoner is released and then given. This search should be done while respecting the inmate’s privacy.

Cell searches are essential for all inmates. These searches should be done respectfully. Inmates’ personal belongings should not be damaged, and prison staff should not make fun of any belonging of a prisoner. After the search, belongings should be put back the way they were found. Inmates can be informed about the searches and their terms and, if possible, be present when their cells are searched.


Searches are procedural for detainees and prisoners in any correctional facility. They ensure the security of all parties involved, for instance, inmates, wardens, and other personnel in these facilities. However, these searches can be done depending on the nature of the arrest and criminal history, as some are too intrusive, for instance, in the case of Florence. These searches must be done respectfully and dignified to prevent any commotion between inmates and the search party.


Gorsuch, M., & Rho, D. (2019). Police stops and searches of indigenous people in Minneapolis: The roles of race, place, and gender. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(3).

Laux, J. (2019). Judicial power: How constitutional courts affect political transformations. International Journal of Constitutional Law, 17(3), 1010-1014.

Nir, E. (2019). Empowering the exclusionary rule: Using suppression motion data to improve police searches and searches in the United States. International Journal of Police Science &Amp; Management, 22(1), 96-107.

Oyez. (2012). Florence v. board of chosen freeholders of the county of Burlington. Oyez.

Timofeeva, E. (2019). Foreign prison experience resocialization of prisoners. SHS Web of Conferences, 62, 12004.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


LawBirdie. (2023, September 28). Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Retrieved from https://lawbirdie.com/florence-vs-burlington-county-board-of-chosen-freeholders/


LawBirdie. (2023, September 28). Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders. https://lawbirdie.com/florence-vs-burlington-county-board-of-chosen-freeholders/

Work Cited

"Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders." LawBirdie, 28 Sept. 2023, lawbirdie.com/florence-vs-burlington-county-board-of-chosen-freeholders/.


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders'. 28 September.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders." September 28, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/florence-vs-burlington-county-board-of-chosen-freeholders/.

1. LawBirdie. "Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders." September 28, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/florence-vs-burlington-county-board-of-chosen-freeholders/.


LawBirdie. "Florence vs. Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders." September 28, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/florence-vs-burlington-county-board-of-chosen-freeholders/.