“Early one March morning inside an Illinois prison, a tactical unit armed with batons and shields stormed two women’s housing units to round up about 200 handcuffed inmates and march them to a gymnasium.
Once in the gym, they stood facing the wall for more than an hour, still unsure why, until the guards started taking groups of four to 10 into the adjoining bathroom and beauty shop. There, they were ordered to strip. Standing shoulder to shoulder, women on their periods were asked to remove their tampons and pads. Some stood bleeding on themselves or the floor. They were ordered to lift their breasts and hair, to cough and squat, and then, finally, to bend over and spread open their vaginal and anal cavities.
The bathroom had no doors and was visible from the gym, and the beauty shop’s door was open too, allowing male guards to see the naked prisoners whenever they walked past, or as they deliberately stared at them from afar, according to a federal complaint.
At the time, the women didn’t know why the Lincoln Correctional Center guards had ordered the humiliating mass strip search, but discovered the reason later: It was just a training exercise for incoming cadets.”
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