The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Prisons want more power to strip search prisoners in anti-drug move

  • Print

OTTAWA - The federal prison service wants to make it easier to search inmates and visitors in an effort to keep drugs out of penitentiaries.

Regulations proposed Friday would lower the threshold for triggering a search, including strip searches of prisoners — the latest federal move in an ongoing attempt to reduce drug use behind bars.

NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison denounced the approach as a waste of time and resources that need to go to treatment programs.

"Until you actually do effective addiction treatment in prison, people will be infinitely creative about getting drugs into prison," Garrison said in an interview.

Federal authorities "have been very stubborn in their insistence that interdiction is the way to solve the problem," he added.

The Correctional Service of Canada says hundreds of people pass in and out of prisons every day, creating opportunities for contraband smugglers.

"Garbage trucks make pickups. Food supplies are delivered. Canada Post and courier services deliver mail, court records, books, and packages," says a notice outlining the proposed changes.

"Inmates being gradually released leave for a few hours or days on temporary passes or supervised work crews, and come back."

The Correctional Service says the presence of drugs in penitentiaries undermines its mission by creating an underground economy lined to organized crime, which often increases violence. It also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases and endangers successful rehabilitation, the prison service says.

Authorities are already using drug detector dogs, electronic screening technologies and various types of searches.

Regulatory amendments would give the prison service authority to impose new restrictions on inmate visits and conduct additional searches of prisoners, staff and visitors.

They would also empower officials to designate a specific part of a prison as a "secure area."

Inmates could be subjected to what is known as a routine strip search — a visual inspection of the naked body and a search of all clothing — when they are leaving a secure area of a penitentiary.

The regulations would also make it easier for prison authorities to insist that there be a physical barrier between an inmate and a visitor, or to deny a visit altogether on grounds that drugs may be smuggled during the encounter.

Consultations on the proposed changes were held in summer 2012.

"Inmates were generally not supportive of the additional searches that may now take place when entering or leaving a secure area," says the notice published Friday. "They questioned what specific areas would be defined as secure areas."

Prisoners also expressed worries about visits being ruined or denied. Garrison says the unpleasant prospect of being searched could make visitors opt to stay home.

"It disrupts maintaining family ties that are so important to successful reintegration into the community."

Visitors also raised concerns during the consultation, though staff, unions, contractors and volunteers were supportive of the proposed changes.

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Peguis Chief Hudson comments on toddler's death upgrade to homicide investigation

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Manitoba support the transport of nuclear waste through the province?

View Results

Ads by Google