Jail Strip Searches: Inmate Class Action Green Light

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Strip searches in prison: green light for a class action by inmates

Ottawa Defends Use of Strip Searches in Prison.

Ontario Superior Court Authorizes Class Action Alleging Canadian Authorities Conducted Strip Searches illegally nude federal inmates hundreds of thousands of times over three decades.

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The statement filed against Ottawa accuses prison officials of inappropriate conduct and seeks compensation for victims.

Federal law limits strip searches to cases where an inmate could have had access to drugs or other contraband, but the class action alleges the practice occurs much more often.

Plaintiffs' attorneys say strip searches are a violation of fundamental freedoms and that the government must stop breaking its own laws.

Among the plaintiffs, Kim Major, a 57-year-old mother who was incarcerated.

“When I am strip searched, I relive the horrors of the sexual assault I suffered.

—Plaintiff Kim Major (News Release)

The feds deny the majority of the allegations, saying in a statement that inmates continue to hide contraband and that strip searches may be necessary to maintain security in penitentiaries.

In a press release, Mr. Kent Elson, one of the lawyers representing the detainees in this class action, says that this is the first time that an Ontario court has authorized a class action of its kind .

“All too often, prisoners leave prison more traumatized and less able to interact in society. They need support, not illegal and traumatic strip searches.

— Class Action Lawyer Kent Elson (News Release)

For him, it is a question of accountability” for prisons.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino did not respond to a request for comment from The Canadian Press.

With information from La Presse canadienne

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