An 8-year-old girl was strip searched by Virginia Department of Corrections employees after she was told that if she refused, she wouldn’t be able to visit her father in prison. The Virginian-Pilot reports that the child was visiting the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia, with her father’s girlfriend, Diamond Peerman, who is not her legal guardian. Peerman told the Pilot that she was told they had to consent to the girl being strip searched, or visitation rights would be terminated and the girl couldn’t see her dad anymore. According to Virginia state law, however, a legal guardian must give consent for the search. The girl texted her mother after the incident, writing, “Hey Mom, am so mad the jail had to strip me with all of my clothes off this doesn’t make no sinc [sic].”
DOC Director of Communications Lisa Kinney told the Pilot that the staff member who approved the search didn’t have the authority. “It is deeply troubling and represents a breach in our protocol,” Kinney wrote in an email. “We sincerely apologize to this child and her family and will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible.” The girl’s mother said the child has missed school as a result of the incident, and was already suffering from bipolar disorder, depression, and ADHD beforehand.