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Prisons want more power

The federal prison service wants to make it easier to search inmates and visitors in an effort to keep drugs out of institutions.

Newly proposed regulations would lower the threshold for triggering a search, including strip searches of prisoners — the latest federal move in an ongoing attempt to reduce drug use behind bars.

The federal Correctional Service says hundreds of people pass in and out of prisons every day, creating opportunities for contraband smugglers.

Regulatory amendments would give the prison service the authority to impose new restrictions on inmate visits and conduct additional searches on prisoners, staff and visitors.

The Correctional Service is already using drug detector dogs, electronic screening technologies and various types of searches.

NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison says the approach is a waste of time and resources that need to go to addiction treatment.

Prisoners expressed worries about visits being ruined or denied. Garrison says the unpleasant prospect of being searched could make visitors opt to stay home.

"It disrupts maintaining family ties that are so important to successful reintegration into the community."

Visitors also raised concerns during the consultation, though staff, unions, contractors and volunteers were supportive of the proposed changes.

The Canadian Press

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