Strip searches that are failing to make women’s prisons safer successful Queensland are often re-traumatising and “counterproductive to everything else” nan justness strategy seeks to do, unit person told a awesome review.
The harrowing Queensland Human Rights Commission study besides raised nan request for a further look astatine specified searches successful constabulary watch houses, which were moreover “more invasive, inhumane and degrading”.
Titled Stripped of our dignity and published connected Wednesday, nan reappraisal of strip-search usage successful nan state’s women’s prisons recovered nan inconsistent and ineffective believe was besides starring women to forgo family visits to debar them.
“The demeaning and dehumanising quality of portion searches undermines nan dignity and self-esteem of prisoners and their opportunity for rehabilitation,” Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall wrote.
Why it matters
Almost 90 per cent of female prisoners are survivors of kid intersexual abuse, aliases home aliases beingness violence. For galore of them, nan study noted, portion searches tin “echo these traumas”.
Strip searches require a captive to region each of their apparel but are different to much invasive body-cavity searches. The reappraisal recovered astir portion searches were routine, specified arsenic earlier and aft visits, and not related to immoderate suspicions nan women were carrying narcotics aliases vulnerable items.
But nan reappraisal – which included visits to each 5 of nan state’s women’s jails and talks pinch astir 60 prisoners and 20 unit – was incapable to besides screen constabulary watch houses, wherever women were subjected to worse practices.
What they said
The reappraisal was told of full units being portion searched erstwhile brackish aliases sweetener packets went missing from a kitchen, women told to region pads aliases tampons, others held down while their apparel were trim disconnected pinch antheral officers around, aliases being told to “lift your fat up”.
A trans female who was sexually assaulted successful a men’s situation was besides past subjected to a hunt by aggregate antheral staff.
“My family utilized to travel weekly. I conscionable said to him, ‘You know, we’ll conscionable make it monthly aliases each six weeks’ ... conscionable to trim down that portion search,” 1 captive told nan review.
Another said nan searches reminded prisoners that nan unit were nan ones “in control” and that they “own each of you”.
One unit personnel said: “No 1 likes doing it … I hated it from time one. For first timers, it’s humiliating and traumatising.”
Another said: “It’s counterproductive to everything other we’re gonna do. We’re trying to create amended versions of humanity erstwhile they time off than erstwhile they came in, and if we’re dehumanising them by doing this worldly ... we’re not doing that.”
Where to from here
Last year’s Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce report amplified long-running calls for an extremity to nan practice, but acknowledged this would return clip while assemblage scanners were rolled out.
Trials are planned for adjacent twelvemonth earlier an information study to authorities by July 2025.
Meanwhile, Queensland Corrective Services will update its policies based connected nan review, which made 24 recommendations to limit portion searches, switch “degrading” urine supplier tests pinch saliva swabs, and amended accommodate trans and gender divers prisoners.
Sean Parnell sends an exclusive newsletter to subscribers each week. Sign up to person his Note from nan Editor.
Most Viewed successful National