On November 24th, an eight year old girl had traveled with her father’s girlfriend for two hours to visit her father, at the Virginia Buckingham Correctional Center.
They were selected for a strip search, because a sniffer dog had alerted the correctional officers. They were told, that if they did not consent to the search, the visit would be cancelled, and both would be banned for future visits. The girlfriend, was not the child’s legal guardian, and could not legally give permission for a strip search. The officer in charge had the girlfriend sign the authorization to strip search the minor.
Two female correctional officers had the 8 year old girl remove all of her clothes, bend over, and expose her cheeks, etc, for the guards.
After the incident, the girl messaged her mother, “Am so mad the jail had to strip me with all of my clothes off this doesn’t make no sinc [sic].” The mother asked, “Did they make you take your pants off?” Her daughter replied,”Yes all of my clothes off.”
According to the mother, her child suffers from bipolar disorder, depression and ADHD. The little girl was so upset from the strip search, she has missed school.
Although nothing was found from either search, the girl had a non-contact visit via glass partition.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident, temporarily stopped strip searches of children, and called for an inquiry.
Virginia Department of Corrections spokeswoman, Lisa Kinney, said in a statement, before the governor’s announcement, that “the staff member who authorized the search… didn’t have the authority to do so”, and would be subjected to disciplinary action. Without the consent of a parent or legal guardian, prison policy does not allow the strip search of a minor.
Noted women’s rights lawyer, Nicole Tortoriello, said, “If you deny that invasive search request, you’re at risk of having your visiting privileges permanently or temporarily suspended…Even if the visitor consents to the search and nothing is found, the mere fact that they were flagged for a search means they will not be allowed physical contact with the prisoner they’re visiting that day.”
The attorney added, “Children should never in any circumstances be subjected to an invasive, humiliating, traumatizing strip or cavity search administered by strangers while attempting to visit a loved one in a correctional facility…”
Visitors have tried to smuggle contraband to inmates, but in the end, there was a no contact visit for the eight year old girl. At the beginning of this incident, the prison authorities, if there was any doubt about the child, could have resolved the issue immediately, with a no contact visit, through a glass partition and thereby avoided the humiliating strip search of an 8 year old child.