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Old 09-25-2002, 06:41 PM
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Question Prison suspends use of drug-detection machine after grandmother tests positive

Prison suspends use of drug-detection machine after grandmother tests positive

VICTORIA (CP) - Prison officials have suspended use of a high-tech drug detection machine after it found speed and ecstacy residues on a woman in her 80s who wanted to visit her inmate grandson. Patricia Lockhart, assistant warden at William Head Institution, said Wednesday the medium-security prison's ion scanner itemizer will be shut down until it is inspected by its Manitoba-based manufacturer.

Three of the eight people turned away at the prison gates last weekend because drugs were detected said they cleaned their hands and eyeglasses with chlorine-coated wipes before being tested by the machine, she said.

The elderly woman was one of the people who said she wiped her hands with the chlorine product, Lockhart said.

"Until further research is conducted on products such as chlorine wipes and this problem is resolved, use of the (ion scanner) itemizer has been suspended at William Head Institution," Lockhart said.

"We will be talking to the manufacturer about the chlorine wipes, because it is odd three people would mention it."

Michael Jackson, a law professor at the University of British Columbia and a corrections expert, said the drug detection machine is a heavy-handed weapon in the war against drugs.

Used responsibly, it can point prison officials to potential drug smugglers, but it shouldn't be used as a tool to immediately deny visits, he said.

"In the war against drugs one of the casualties is fairness. This is the latest example of that," said Jackson, who recently published a book on Canada's prisons, Justice Behind the Walls: Human Rights in Canadian Prisons.

He said the zero-tolerance drug policy at William Head needs a human touch to become more fair. At many of Canada's federal prisons a positive ion scanner test first prompts an interview by a prison official who then decides whether to halt a visit or allow it to proceed, Jackson said.

Jackson said he's received letters from women who feel they have been labelled drug dealers because a machine has sensed something they have never had contact with.

"To a woman, they tell me about being traumatized, humiliated, ashamed," he said. "The lengths which they scrub themselves. They put their clothes in plastic bags and only wear them to prison."

Lockhart said every visitor or volunteer entering William Head was subject to an ion scan or a search by a drug-sniffing dog.

Visitors detected for drugs are denied their visit, but are eligible to meet with a visits review board that meets twice weekly, Lockhart said.

"We haven't had instances where anyone has alarmed (the machine) twice," she said.

William Head, known as Club Fed because inmates can golf and fish, is slated to become a minimum-security institution next year.

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Old 09-27-2002, 05:17 AM
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My experience with this machine is in Missouri and the first time I was tested I failed twice in a row! Twice! Fortunately the thrid time I passed and they let me through without any trouble. I assure you that I was clean of any drugs perscription or otherwise...

I have seen people turned away many times. I have heard all kinds of stories of not cleaning the machine properly and all sorts...

I have seen people arrive with latex gloves on giving all kinds of advice like don't touch money or fill up with gas on the way to the prison.

I am not going to say that people that I have seen turned away could not have been trying to bring drugs into the visiting room, but I have seen people drive many, many hours be turned away in my opinion without cause.

When the prisons start to test each CO when they enter for a shift then I will accept visitors being turned away!
Ken aka Teb aka tebkrg
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Old 09-27-2002, 12:08 PM
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These stupid machines test you positive for OPIUM, if you so much as have a poppy-seed bagel for lunch beforehand!

(Obviously, poppy seeds come fom the same plant as opium, but they are two very different "end products" but the machine can't differentiate!)

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Old 09-27-2002, 12:10 PM
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By the way Michael Jackson (this lawyer, who's quoted) genuinely is one of my heroes! He almost singlehandedly got the B.C. PEN shut down for the abuses that happened in there!!!


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Old 11-21-2002, 08:22 AM
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Default Ion Scanner

Ahhhh...my new best friend, the Ion Scan machine!!!
So far in 7 months, I have had "hits" on that machine for: Cocaine (2), LSD, Methamphetamine, and Heroin. I also used those chlorine wipes, in the assumption they would clean well. I believe those may be the culprit on a few of my hits. I am a single Mom who has never had a drug problem in my life but who does Bank Deposits during my working day and I think money is a bad one for setting off those damn things. I am so glad I found this post as I am on the process of trying to find ANYTHING I can to print out and use in my fight to get the Ion Scan machine taken out of the prison my husband is in in Alberta.I have researched it alot and so far they have taken it out of the BC Prisons as far as I can tell and Collins Bay has removed it. Any other info you may have on this "tool" to deny visits is greatly appreciated!!!

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