A federal judge has heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by 178 former and current inmates at a women's jail in western Massachusetts who say their constitutional rights are being violated because male guards are videotaping strip searches.


The suit against the Hampden County sheriff, who oversees the Western Massachusetts Women's Correctional Center in Chicopee, was originally brought by two inmates in September 2011.



The plaintiffs argue that allowing men to be present during strip searches at the jail is degrading and a violation of their protection against unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment.


A lawyer for the sheriff says the male guards are trained to turn away while videotaping so they don't see anything.  The attorney for the women says that it is unreasonable to think that a male guard operating the camera is not really looking at it.


The judge did not immediately rule.  It may take several months before a decision is handed down.