Eight-year-old Girl Stripped Searched by VA Prison Guards

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Sally Haley

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Recently I read an article on in washingtonpost.com, about how an eight-year-old girl was strip searched at a Virginia prison without her legal guardian’s permission. This incident could’ve been avoided and the guards at the prison should’ve known better than to search the child without asking the mother first. Some CHS students may have imprisoned parents and family members and should be aware of what their rights are in case they find themselves in this situation.

An eight-year-old girl was stripped searched by prison guards at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn on Nov. 24.

The girl went to the prison to visit her father with his girlfriend, Diamond Peerman.

A drug-sniffing dog at the prison focused on the child and Peerman. The guards then told the two that they had to be strip searched in order to visit the imprisoned father.

The child was reluctant and began to cry. The guards made it clear that she would not be able to see her father without being searched. Another consequence of refusal would be being banned from the prison.

It is illegal to strip search a minor without permission from a legal guardian.

A Department of Correction spokeswoman said to the Virginia Pilot, “The prison’s policy requires a legal guardian’s permission to strip-search a child.”

The guards found no illegal  substances  on the child or Peerman; consequently, the pair was able to see the girl’s father through a glass window.

The mother of the child, civil rights advocates, and Virginia Department of corrections officials said in an article on washingtonpost.com, “The decision to strip-search the girl without her legal guardian’s permission defied its internal policies.”

The child contacted her mother through text messages and displayed anger over the incident. The mother has not allowed her daughter to visit the prison to see her father again.

The mother said to the newspaper, “The girl has missed school because of distress over the search, which has exacerbated her symptoms of bipolar disorder, depression, and ADHD. She went through something that traumatized her. I’m not sending her back there.”

This incident is shocking. The guards should have asked the child’s mother to get permission for a strip search by calling her. They should not assumed that the adult with the child was h er mother. Peerman herself should have left the prison with the minor child to avoid the child being treated in this manner. She shouldn’t have allowed the strip search to take place.

Know your rights when you visit a family member in prison.