A federal judge in Newark has approved a $5.7 million settlement in a class action against Essex County over illegal strip searches at its correctional facility for people arrested on nonindictable offenses.

The suit claimed the county’s blanket strip search policy violated the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The suit also claimed the searches violated the New Jersey Civil Rights Law and the state strip search statute. The sole plaintiff and class representative, Lazaro Sanchez, who was charged with nonpayment of child support, was strip-searched before he was arraigned or given the opportunity to contest his detention, even though there was no particularized suspicion that he possessed drugs, weapons or other contraband, the suit claimed.

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