Q&A: Sheriff Daron Hall

Monday, April 9, 2012 at 9:09am

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision last week that correctional facilities across the country could conduct full-body strip searches of all inmates, regardless of how minor the alleged offense. Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, in his capacity as the president of the American Correctional Association, praised the decision. The City Paper spoke to him about local implications of the ruling.

What exactly does the Supreme Court decision outline?

Before 9/11, the whole strip-searching thing by the federal courts seemed to be leaning more toward the arrestee, making it more difficult for institutions. Post 9/11, the court cases seemed to be more in line or in favor with the correctional needs of the institution to make searches. So we’ve been anxious to get this question answered.

What is Davidson County’s policy on searching people being admitted to jail?

When people are booked and arrested, they are obviously in their street clothes, and we have them undress behind a curtain and hand us their clothes. It’s not a strip search, it’s not a search of anything, but it is an improvement over the way ... when I came here 20 years ago, you left the person in their clothing, and Lord knows what all might be involved in that.

The [current] policy would allow the officers to perform strip-searching in the event that we had reasonable suspicion or knowledge of a person’s attempt to smuggle something into the institution.

Will the Supreme Court’s decision result in any changes here?

We’re not going to change our policy as a result of the court’s ruling, but it truly protects us when and if we were to implement a different system of searching. We’re not going to do that right away or have plans for it. But I think it needed to be done, it needed to be cleared up. All of us need to have a consistent application of how you search, when you search.

2 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 4/9/12 at 8:57

I understand performing such a thorough search when reasonable suspicion leads officers to believe an individual might be concealing dangerous implements.

The disturbing aspect of this ruling is the very real possibility of abuse of power I predict will inevitably come about.

The upside is, eventually the court will likely reverse itself, especially when the political balance shifts, and over zealous law enforcement will conduct searches resulting in financially crippling awards against officers and their organizations.

By: Loner on 4/10/12 at 6:03

Good morning, Nashville!

Our posting community kicked this around a few days ago, when the USSC rulng on strip searches came down...the strip search decision was announced on the same day that the TN Senate voted unanimously to ban saggy, baggy pants in the High Schools....I remember asking if those arrested for showing their underwear - the saggy pants boys - would be arrested and strip-searched by police.

As I recall, Daron Hall welcomed the decision, claiming it gave his men "more flexibility". I think that we can interpret "flexibility" as meaning latitude to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

In law, "arbitrary and capricious" is defined as: "Absence of a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made". (Source: http://www.lectlaw.com/def/a064.htm)

If there is a God in heaven, Justice Clarence Thomas will get pulled over, while in civilian clothes, and having forgotten his wallet, gets taken downtown and strip-searched and cavity checked by racist white cops in Washington, DC.

Oh yes, there will be abuse...of that there is little doubt.

And this Daron Hall character wants to run for Governor? Or is it Mayor of Nashville? Or is it "Fuhrer in der Koonskin Kap Staat"?

From what I have read about the man and from his own statements, I conclude he's the kind of fellow who believes that the ends justify the means...a faith-based kind of a guy...we are to have faith in Sheriff Daron Hall and his men...faith that they will not act in an arbitrary & capricious manner....fear not, oh ye of little faith....the Sheriff's a good guy....right?

"Achtung...droppen ze hosen! Schnell!"