AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Nearly 300 people who were awarded more than $450,000 in a class action lawsuit over jailhouse strip searches handed the money back to the state to pay child support and related debts.

Former prisoners who believed they were illegally strip searched between 1996 and 2004 at the York County Jail were awarded $3.3 million in the 1,350-member, class-action settlement.

State officials discovered that 284 plaintiffs owed child support, and working with the state attorney general's office and U.S. District Court, recovered $463,000.

Of the total, $240,000 went to the children's families, and the rest went to state and federal governments to help repay the cost of public assistance during the time that support payments were not available, state officials said.

In the York County strip-search case, plaintiffs objected to a policy of making all prisoners, even those facing misdemeanor charges, disrobe. Jail officials said the searches were to uncover hidden weapons or other contraband.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060124/D8FB8DOG1.html