Pubdate: Sat, 19 Feb 2005
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2005 Richmond Newspapers Inc.
Author: Frank Green
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


Department Of Corrections Investigating Complaints About Giving Urine

Inmates at the Greensville Correctional Center now say at least 60 of
them were made to strip bare when giving urine samples for drug
screening last month. =09

Also, two inmates at Sussex II State Prison say prisoners there have
been made to take off their clothes for urine tests.

Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections,
said yesterday that an investigation into the inmates' complaints is
still in progress.

However, he said, "I can state that the investigation shows no
criminal action by staff. Each inmate was isolated in a bathroom when
the test was conducted. This did not happen in the open or in front of
other inmates.

"At worst, this was a misapplication of current policy. Headquarters
has directed Greensville to make staff aware of this and to take
corrective measures. However, strip searches will still be allowed if
there is reasonable suspicion of contraband or an attempt to tamper
with a urine test," Traylor said.

Jamie Fellner, associate counsel for Human Rights Watch, in New York,
wants the department to make it clear such a practice will not be
tolerated in the future. "Inmates do not leave all their privacy
rights at the prison gates," she said.

A Feb. 3 story in The Times-Dispatch reported that Greensville inmates
said at least a dozen prisoners were told to remove their clothes for
urine tests on Jan. 27 or face punishment.

The inmates said they were told to hang up their clothes -- which were
not searched -- and then put them back on once the urine sample was

Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, called the
stripping "deeply disturbing." He said it "removes the last remaining
shred of privacy that prisoners have."

"Prison officials could justify this procedure only if they
demonstrate that it is necessary to maintain prison security or to
ensure legitimacy of the urine sample. Neither of these justifications
[appears] present in this case," Willis said.

Jenni Gainsborough with Penal Reform International said it is her
understanding that when there is concern an inmate might attempt to
alter a test or swap urine samples, authorities simply watch the
sample being taken -- rather then have the inmate shed their clothing.

Jean Auldridge, director of Virginia Citizens United for
Rehabilitation of Errants, said yesterday that "it is shocking that
one or more correctional officers . . . would violate their
responsibility by forcing a large number of men to strip naked before
taking a routine urine test.

"This doesn't make sense. Such abusive treatment should never happen,"
Auldridge said.

Willis Keith, a sex offender serving a four-year sentence, said he had
taken urine tests for illegal drugs before but not like the one he
took Jan. 12 wearing nothing above his ankles.

A portly, 67-year-old man, Keith was awakened by officers around 4
a.m. along with about 30 other Greensville Correctional Center
inmates. "They told us, 'Get your clothes on because you've got to go
for a urination test,'" Keith said.

He said he walked up to the third floor, where he stood second in line
for the test. He had no reason to expect anything out of the ordinary
until he noticed it was taking the first man led into the small rest
room an inordinately long time.

"I found out when it was my turn what took so long," he said. An
officer brought him into the room, leaving the door partially open.
"He told me, 'OK, take off your clothes.' I told him, 'How many you
want me to take off?' He said, 'Take off everything but your socks.'"

"I hung it all up on a nail or a peg next to the door."

"I didn't feel good about it," Keith said on Thursday. "It just didn't
set well with me."

Greensville inmate Daniel R. Shinault wrote in a letter, "I have been
locked up for a little over three years and have been given several
prior drug screens but have never been treated in such an intimidated
and disrespectful manner." He also said he was tested Jan. 12.

Inmate Darrell R. White wrote that "between Jan. 12, 2005, and Jan.
27, 2005, at least 60 inmates . . . were forced to take these drug
tests naked and not one inmate was locked up for a positive drug test!"

Two inmates at Sussex II State Prison, near Waverly, said that
beginning in November, inmates there had been made to remove all their
clothes for urine tests.

Joseph Lee Garrett wrote that about two months ago, Sussex II started
"stripping all of us during urine testing." Those who did not want to
comply were threatened with segregation.

Kenneth M. Tinsley wrote that inmates had been made to strip for urine
tests since last November.

Tinsley, a convicted rapist, is a suspect in the 1982 rape and murder
of Rebecca Williams, in Culpeper, for which former death-row inmate --
and since pardoned -- Earl Washington Jr. was nearly executed.

Traylor said he was not aware of any incidents beyond Greensville but
said that any inmate is free to make a complaint to the corrections
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