Robyn Gallagher


This Note considers the conflicting interests of prisoners, in not being subjected to cross-gender pat searches, and corrections officers, in not being discriminated against in employment opportunities. Ultimately, this Note argues that an inmate’s rights, including Constitutional rights under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments, take precedence, and therefore, cross-gender pat searches should only be performed during emergencies. There are solutions, however, that respect inmate rights while preserving employment opportunities for both male and female correctional staff. To the extent possible, these solutions must be pursued prior to implementation of a bona fide occupational qualification, thereby preserving the rights of both prisoners and corrections officers.

In Part I, this Note discusses various prisoners’ rights implicated by the use of cross-gender pat searches. In Part II, this Note turns to the rights of corrections officers in light of Title VII. Part III examines the conflicting rights and reaches the conclusion that inmate rights take precedence, and therefore, non-emergency cross-gender pat searches should be prohibited. Finally, Part IV analyzes the viability of prior solutions and briefly suggests various policies that may be implemented, given a prohibition on non-emergency cross-gender pat searches, to protect employment opportunities.