A report has been submitted after an 8-year-old girl went to visit her father in jail the week of Thanksgiving and was strip-searched by the corrections officers.
The girl, who remains anonymous, was visiting her father at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia. It was customary for her to visit every week, though this visit was particularly important during the holiday.
Her fatherâ€™s girlfriend, Diamond Peerman, accompanied her on this particular visit.
Upon entering the facility, Peerman and the child went through the usual, routine checks that all visitors must go through when going into a correctional facility.
However, a Department of Corrections K-9, who was trained to detect drugs and other contraband, approached Peerman, which prompted a required strip-search.
â€” New York Post (@nypost) December 6, 2019
Peerman asked if the girl would also have to be searched, which led to mixed reactions.
According to the report, the guards initially said that the girl would not need to be fully searched, but a captain then gave an overriding order for her to be included in the check. Peerman and the girl were then informed that if they did not participate in the strip-search, they would be banned from the state prison for any further visits.
â€œI told her, that means you have to take all of your clothes off or youâ€™re not going to be able to see your dad. Thatâ€™s when she starting crying.â€
According to the report, Peerman informed the guards that she was not the girlâ€™s legal guardian, but they demanded she sign a waiver of consent for the minor anyway.
State policy allows for these searches involving minors when needed, but a legal guardian is always required to be present and sign before that can happen, according to Lisa Kinney, the spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.
â€œIt is deeply troubling and represents a breach in our protocol. We sincerely apologize to this child and her family and will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible.â€
Kinney also added that the staffer who made the decision for the girl to be strip-searched didnâ€™t have the authority in the correctional facility.
As a result of the search, no items were found in the girlâ€™s or in Peermanâ€™s possession, or in Peermanâ€™s car. To make matters worse, they were able to visit the girlâ€™s father that day, but they had to settle for a no-contact visit through a pane of glass.
Itâ€™s been included in the report, as well, that the girl suffers from bipolar disorder, depression and ADHD. As a result of this incident, she has struggled to cope and has missed multiple days of school.
Her mother shared that she would not be taking her daughter back to the prison anytime soon if it meant subjecting her to these conditions.
Her mother said:
â€œHer and her dad have a good relationshipâ€¦because she gets to go see him every weekend. But, at the same time, she went through something that traumatized her. Iâ€™m not sending her back there.â€
Many have taken to Twitter to share their distaste for the situation.
I would be furious.— Independent Patriot (@Trace65518799) December 6, 2019
It shouldnâ€™t have happened. The woman was not even the childâ€™s legal guardian. Smh— Lady Smoke (@MarquitaLove) December 6, 2019
What is the matter with these people?— Brain (@waddatwit) December 6, 2019
I agree with you. She should have taken the child out of the situation and left. She should have never signed the agreement whether she felt forced or not. Leaving was the correct response.— Jon (@SteigerJC) December 6, 2019
While itâ€™s no secret that a prisoner, if desperate enough, will have items smuggled in through any means necessary, itâ€™s still difficult to think of someone involving a child.
Itâ€™s unclear how extensive the investigation will be, beyond taking action against the staffer who made the decision to strip-search the girl, but hopefully, improvements will be made to the searching protocol, so something like this doesnâ€™t happen again.