Woman to sue prison for forced body search (CBC)
Fri, 28 Nov 2003
KITCHENER, ONT. - The lawyer for a woman inmate who underwent a "traumatizing" body search wants to sue an Ontario prison for sexual assault and damages.
John Hill, a lawyer for Tracy Curry, said his client was coerced into
undergoing an anal and vaginal search on Oct. 23 by officials who accused
her of having cocaine.
Curry, who has been in prison for nine years for second-degree murder,
had returned from a visit to a halfway house when a sniffer dog detected
drugs on her. According to Hill, Curry was thrown into a cell for
observation and told that she could come out only if she consented to
an X-ray. She
agreed and the X-rays didn't show anything.
Hill said Curry, a victim
of sexual abuse, was subjected to a body cavity search by doctors, even
though the X-rays confirmed she wasn't smuggling
drugs. Hill said Curry was pressured to submit to the search because
she wanted to prove her innocence. Curry is preparing for parole and re-entry
"There are a lot of women in prisons who have been sexually abused in
their lives, who are especially vulnerable, and for them to undergo these
types of searches raises a lot of psychological horror for them," said
He hopes that by taking this case to court, it will have ramifications
across Canada on the treatment of women prisoners.
"The rules are very clear. Body cavity searches on female inmates can
not be accomplished unless there is confirmed consent and not coerced
consent," added Hill.
When asked to comment, Grand Valley Institution told CBC that it does
not discuss individual cases.
Search and Seizure Quick Facts
There are three types of searches:
• a general "pat-down" or "frisking" over clothing or inside pockets.
• involves the removal of all clothing to permit a visual inspection of a person's
Body cavity search
• a physical inspection of the genital or anal regions.
In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada issued strict rules limiting a
police officer's ability to conduct a strip search. Strip searches can
only be carried out by
an officer of the same sex as the person being searched. Only a physician
may perform cavity searches and they must be done at a medical facilit