For any child, having a parent in prison is already a traumatizing experience. So when one young girl was treated like a prisoner herself on a visit to see her incarcerated father, her parents were right to be furious.
The 8-year-old, whose name has been withheld to protect her identity, went to see her father at the state prison in Dillwyn, VA, like she had done several times before. Yet, this time was different.
Guards made the young girl pass by a drug-sniffing dog upon entering the facility. But instead of letting her pass, the dog fixated on her as if she were hiding contraband.
It was then that the guards gave her a choice: accept a strip search or be banned from seeing her father. Sign to demand an end to child strip-searches.
The father's girlfriend, Diamond Peerman, who had driven the young lady two and a half hours to see her dad, was shocked. She wasn't the child's guardian but explained to the young girl that she should undress so that she could be searched by prison staff. The girl felt she had no choice; she conceded to the search but felt horrified and humiliated afterward.
The ordeal was so traumatizing that she has missed school since the search. Her mother refuses to let her go back to the prison, fearing for her daughter's safety. According to the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) policy, children cannot be strip-searched without the consent of a legal guardian, something the correctional officers did not have.
Prison officials at Buckingham Correctional Center overstepped and have now left a young girl emotionally traumatized.
After hearing about the grotesque abuse of the young lady's rights, VDOC and the governor have halted all child strip-searches pending an investigation. Yet there is a more pressing issue here. Why are kids allowed to be strip-searched in the first place? Such invasions of privacy can scar and humiliate grown adults, let alone a child. The practice should be banned for use on children period. There is no excuse for forcing a young person to go through such a degrading experience. Please sign the petition and demand that VDOC and Governor Ralph Northam ban child strip-searches immediately.