Outrage after 8-year-old girl strip-searched by prison staff during visit to see father
An eight-year-old girl was reportedly stripped naked and searched by Virginia prison staff month during a routine visit to see her father last month, according to the NY Daily News.
The Virginian-Pilot reports that the girl was visiting the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia, with her father's girlfriend, Diamond Peerman, who is not her legal guardian. Peerman alleges that the minor, who has remained unidentified, was told that if she refused, she would no longer be able to visit her dad in the correctional facility.
However, Virginia state law maintains that a legal guardian must give consent should a minor be strip-searched. The girl proceeded to text her mother after the incident, writing "Hey Mom, am so mad the jail had to strip me with all of my clothes off this doesn’t make no sinc [sic].”
Daniel Macallair, the head of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, has since said in a statement "It’s generally regarded in the criminal justice field that you do not strip-search young children."
"I mean most adults, certainly most adults who work in the field of child welfare, would know better — that this is an act of child abuse," he continued.
Speaking to Pilot, Lisa Kinney, Director of Communications, alleged that the staff member who approved the search didn't have the authority. "It is deeply troubling and represents a breach in our protocol," she wrote in an email. "We sincerely apologize to this child and her family and will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible."
This dramatic body cam footage shows police officers saving a one-year-old:
The girl and her father's girlfriend were purportedly standing in a queue with other visitors when a drug detection dog circled the woman, requiring her to be strip-searched.
When she asked whether the minor would also need to be strip-searched, a debate ensured between the officers, who ultimately decided that the eight-year-old would have to be checked to see whether she was in possession of any narcotic substances.