Drug Dogs Could Soon Sniff Prison Visitors
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Visitors to prisons nationwide could soon be subject to random sniffing by drug dogs before they see their incarcerated loved ones. In a new attempt to stem the flow of illegal substances into prisons, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections has implemented a plan to employ dogs to help search visitors at state prison entrances. But many prisoners worry that the strategy could discourage people from visiting. "If they start doing that it will make visitors not want to come," one prisoner tells The Fix. "That is a crazy idea. Why would my people have to be subjected to that?" Drug testing and searching of inmates—including the use of drug-sniffing dogs—is common within most facilities. But drugs continue to be smuggled into prisons, severely impacting reentry efforts and inmates' well-being, say officials—and the most tried-and-tested route is through the visiting room. Using dogs to sniff visitors could help intercept much of the contraband. But prisoners claim this is a breech of their visitors' rights: "Just because I am doing time for drugs doesn't mean my visitors have to be punished also," the prisoner tells us. "Can you imagine my 90-year-old grandmother having to get sniffed down by a police dog? She hasn't done anything wrong." Visits are a vital way for prisoners to maintain family ties, and many fear that fewer visits could make it even harder for them to reintegrate into society after release.