Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jan 2016
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Associated Press
Author: Don Thompson, The Associated Press


SACRAMENTO (AP) - California prison officials are ending visitor 
strip searches in response to a recent change in state law, but 
visitors will face increased scrutiny for a year if traces of drugs 
are detected by dogs or airport-style scanners.

It's the first time visitors will be scrutinized by dogs that 
previously have been used to search inmates, Department of 
Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Dana Simas said Monday.

Visitors who are spotlighted by a dog or ion scanner but refuse 
clothed searches face an increasing range of penalties under the 
revised regulations the department proposed Friday.

"These new policies are just our way of trying to keep contraband and 
drugs outside of our prisons," Simas said.

A first refusal means no visit that day. A second refusal could bring 
a loss of visiting privileges for 30 days, while a third could mean 
no visits for a year. A fourth refusal in a year could result in the 
permanent revocation of visiting privileges.

The progressive penalties will encourage visitors to submit to the 
searches, the department said when outlining the new regulations.

Even if a visitor submits to a clothed search and no drugs or other 
contraband is found, the visitor can't have physical contact with an 
inmate during that day's visit and must go through the process again 
the next time he or she visits an inmate within the next 12 months.

The controversial visitor strip searches were banned last summer by 
state lawmakers, who called them humiliating.

The end was praised by Don Specter of the nonprofit Prison Law 
Office, who represents inmates and called the nude searches 
"incredibly intrusive." However, he is concerned that officials now 
are going to base escalating sanctions on the use of drug-sniffing 
dogs, which he said can be unreliable.

Lawmakers also are concerned about using dogs to search visitors, 
although the department is using non-threatening dogs that sit down 
when they detect contraband.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom