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Girl Visiting Dad in Jail Had to Do 'Traumatizing' Thing First

Civil rights activists are outraged 8-year-old was strip-searched at Virginia correctional facility
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2019 9:22 AM CST
This May 3, 2011, photo shows the entrance sign to the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(Newser) – An 8-year-old who visited her dad in a Virginia prison received an unpleasant surprise there that has civil rights activists outraged. The Virginian-Pilot reports on Nov. 24, the father's girlfriend, Diamond Peerman, took the girl to Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn. Once there, a drug-sniffing dog focused on Peerman, requiring officials to conduct a strip search. Peerman, who is not the girl's legal guardian, says she was told the girl would also need to be strip-searched, or they could be denied visitation. Two female officers with the Virginia Department of Corrections took them to a bathroom, had them take all of their clothes off, and conducted the search. No drugs were found. Although Virginia DOC policy does say visitors can be denied entry if they refuse to submit to a strip search, experts say doing so with a child is generally uncalled for.

"No child should ever be subjected to invasive, humiliating, traumatizing strip searches carried out by strangers to see their loved one in prison," the ACLU of Virginia tweeted, per the Washington Post, which details other incidents of kids being strip-searched. Turns out the Virginia DOC isn't too happy with the news, either. "It is deeply troubling and represents a breach in our protocol," says a rep who notes that only a legal guardian can give permission for a minor's strip search and that the department "will be taking immediate disciplinary action." Peerman tells the Post that a prison official called her Monday to apologize and to inform her an investigation is being carried out, but the 8-year-old's mom says visits for her daughter are over. "She went through something that traumatized her," she tells the Pilot. "I'm not sending her back there." (Read more strip search stories.)

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