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Arguments set in Maryland prison strip search appeal

HAGERSTOWN — A federal appeals court is hearing oral arguments about the strip searches of eight workers at a Maryland state prison near Hagerstown.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., is set to hear Tuesday from lawyers for both sides.

The workers claim their civil rights were violated when they were searched in August 2008 after a drug-sniffing machine falsely signaled they were carrying drugs at the Maryland Correctional Training Center.

A federal judge in Baltimore dismissed the lawsuit last year. The judge ruled the state was entitled to qualified immunity because the machines are widely used in law enforcement and considered reliable.

The workers say that prison security officers should have investigated further before subjecting them to a humiliating strip search.