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Students Strip-Searched at Jail

May 24, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ As many as five middle school students were strip-searched by corrections officers at a city jail during a recent visit arranged by two teachers as a warning to misbehaving children, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The decision to order the pupils from Evans Middle School in the District of Columbia to disrobe at the jail last week apparently was made by jail employees and the teachers, jail officials told the Post.

They said the students, all of them boys, may have been stripped within view of inmates.

Three jail officers and the two teachers were placed on leave Wednesday pending the outcome of separate investigations by the city’s Department of Corrections and the school system. None of the employees was identified.

The FBI also is investigating the case at the jail’s request.

The students who were searched had received in-school suspension because of misconduct. The jail hosts three groups of students a week to deter them from committing crimes, according to jail officials.

Joseph Bennett, 14, one of the boys from Evans who took the tour, said the students first were taken to a processing area and watched as inmates were strip-searched. He told the Post that two guards then picked him and four other boys to go into another room, where they were told to strip. Some resisted.

``The officers said, ’We’re going to make you take your clothes off like real prisoners,‴ Joseph, a seventh-grader, told the Post.

Joseph said he removed his two T-shirts, jeans and shoes in front of the other students, at least three corrections officers and one of the teachers. He said an officer removed the rest of his clothes.

``The security guard put me on a table and pulled off my boxers and socks,″ Joseph said.

School Superintendent Paul L. Vance said he learned of the strip-search only Wednesday.

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