OTTAWA – The federal prison service wants to make it easier to search inmates and visitors in an effort to keep drugs out of penitentiaries.
Regulations proposed Friday would lower the threshold for triggering a search, including strip searches of prisoners – the latest federal move in an ongoing attempt to reduce drug use behind bars.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison denounced the approach as a waste of time and resources that need to go to treatment programs.
“Until you actually do effective addiction treatment in prison, people will be infinitely creative about getting drugs into prison,” Garrison said in an interview.
Federal authorities “have been very stubborn in their insistence that interdiction is the way to solve the problem,” he added.
The Correctional Service of Canada says hundreds of people pass in and out of prisons every day, creating opportunities for contraband smugglers.
“Garbage trucks make pickups. Food supplies are delivered. Canada Post and courier services deliver mail, court records, books, and packages,” says a notice outlining the proposed changes.
“Inmates being gradually released leave for a few hours or days on temporary passes or supervised work crews, and come back.”
The Correctional Service says the presence of drugs in penitentiaries undermines its mission by creating an underground economy linked to organized crime, which often increases violence. It also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases and endangers successful rehabilitation, the prison service says.
Authorities are already using drug detector dogs, electronic screening technologies and various types of searches.
Regulatory amendments would give the prison service authority to impose new restrictions on inmate visits and conduct additional searches of prisoners, staff and visitors.
© The Canadian Press, 2014