Prison officers say “no” to strip search

Wilson says strip search procedure is demoralizing

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A new security procedure implemented at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS) has prison officers up-in-arms, and the Correctional Officers Staff Association has called on BDOCS officials to rethink the move which subjects all prison officers to a daily strip search.

The strip search was reportedly implemented to ensure that illegal contraband does not enter the facility.

While president of the association Ryan Wilson said he understands the reasoning behind the new procedure, he called for it to be done in a more humane manner.

“We have had strip searches of staff which has gone against the constitution. We have had searches which have required staff to strip down to their underwear,” Wilson said.

“There should be steps taken prior in order to strip a staff member down. If you have reasonable suspicion then we can resort to further steps.”

Wilson asserted that the new strip search procedure is demoralizing for both male and female prison officers.

“We should have an independent person present to ensure that the process is professional,” he said.

“We do not want to demoralize or degrade any of our officers.

“I want to be clear; the association does not support corruption, but we are protesting this process.”

In 2018 a number of prison officers were charged before the court for trying to smuggle illegal contraband into the facility.

There were also a number of raids executed at BDOCS, which uncovered illegal items such cellular phones and weapons; believed to have been brought in by officers.

Charles Murphy, BDOCS Acting Commissioner, told Eyewitness News Online that he has taken a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and confirmed that the law allows for such searches to be conducted.

“The act states that every officer when called upon to be searched, must submit themselves to be searched,” he said.