Buckingham, VA — An 8-year-old girl was forced to strip completely naked to be able to enter the Buckingham Correctional Center to see her father, an inmate being housed there. Making matters worse for not only the child but the prison system, the child’s mother was not present in order to give consent to the search.
According to the Washington Post, the girl, whose name is being withheld for privacy reasons simply wanted to see her dad. Her father’s girlfriend took her to the prison where a police K9 alerted the possibility the two females might possibly be smuggling drugs into the prison. They were told they would have to completely strip naked in order to enter the facility and not be banned from future visits.
The girlfriend, Diamond Peerman, explained to the little girl she’d have to get completely naked to see her dad. That’s when the child started weeping, unable to comprehend the apparent humiliation involved in the despicable request.
Surprisingly enough, the K9 handler, and the jail did everything by the book. This is just a case in which the entire book needs to be thrown out and re-written.
As TFTP has consistently reported, K9 handlers can force a drug dog to alert for any reason, causing warrentless searches and seizures of personal property. In this case it was a child’s innocence at stake which was inevitably compromised. Not only was it the first time, most likely, the young girl had ever been naked in front of a stranger, but it was a cop who was demanding the insane request.
We’re also not naive to the fact people can and do use kids to smuggle in contraband to prisons but there are other ways of keeping illegal items out of the prison. For one, prisoners can be kept in an outside yard, meet with their families and then be strip searched before heading back into the prison. But that would make too much sense.
In police state USA, whatever and however the so-called authorities conceive, the public must cow tow to their every demand or risk getting charged with frivolous charges or, in this case, lose the right to see one’s incarcerated family member.
The outcry, following the disrobing of the little girl was swift and forceful. Her mother told the Virginian-Pilot:
She went through something that traumatized her…I’m not sending her back there.
She says the experience has caused a flare-up in her bipolar and ADHD symptoms. The ACLU also weighed in on the deprivation of the girl’s civil liberties and rights not to be stripped naked without her mother present saying:
No child should ever be subjected to invasive, humiliating, traumatizing strip searches carried out by strangers to see their loved ones in prison…Those responsible must be held accountable & VDOC policy must be changed so this never happens again.
The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, also decried the prison’s choice to humiliate a young girl. Northam stated:
I am deeply disturbed by these reports — not just as Governor, but as a pediatrician and a dad…I’ve directed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to suspend this policy while the Department conducts an immediate investigation and review of their procedures.
Of course a suspension of the policy certainly does not mean an end to the degrading practice. In our experience at TFTP the government will most likely suspend the practice until the attention is turned away towards something else in politics and it will likely come back full force.
But for those who think the search was a simply ‘get naked and let’s see if you’ve got any contraband under there’, the actual alleged strip search was much more in-depth. According to WAPO:
The guards asked Peerman to strip first, then bend over and cough. Then, they asked the girl to do the same. The guards handed the 8-year-old’s clothes back to her one piece at a time, the newspaper reported. As she was dressing herself, one of the guards asked the girl how old she was.
Such a personal question asked at the most inappropriate time was immediately rejected by Peerman who was completely offended by it.
I just looked at her and I’m like, ‘That’s not even appropriate to be asking her right now’.
Demonstrating just how unnecessary and inappropriate the strip search was, the two females were not even allowed to physically interact with the girl’s father but were forced to have a conversation through a glass window.
The girl and her mother will most likely secure a lawyer and sue the VA Department of Corrections (DOC). But it all could have been avoided had common sense and decency principles been applied. As if the prison industrial complex did not have enough power already, now they have the power to strip-search kids and the apologists will have no problem condoning their boys in blue.
The DOC called an apologized to the mother and her daughter. Virginia DOC Director of Communications Lisa Kinney told press, “We sincerely apologize to this child and her family and will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible.”
We shall see.