SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Two former inmates at a western Massachusetts women’s jail have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the videotaping of female detainees by male guards during strip searches is degrading and unconstitutional.

The suit filed Thursday by lawyers for two former inmates names as defendants Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe Jr. and Superintendent Patricia Murphy. The sheriff’s office runs the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee.

A lawyer for the women says many inmates have mental health issues or are victims of sexual abuse and the practice “violates … basic human dignity.”

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports.

Murphy says taping happens only 8 or 9 times per month and ensures the safety of inmates and guards. She says men only tape when female guards are unavailable, and men only tape inmates from the neck up.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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