Correctional health: Intimate searches

INTIMATE SEARCHES
DEFINITION OF BODY PACKERS
Body packers are persons who conceal drugs by premeditated ingestions. These drugs are safely packed so that they ¬†won’t open up easily.

Illicit drugs

CONTROLLED DRUGS

Dangerous drugs that are subject to criminal regulation. Class A is the most dangerous and include drugs such as opium and its’ derivatives; heroine, morphine, cocaine and Ecstacy. Amphetamines fall in Class B and examples of Class C are the anabolic steroids and benzodiazepine antidepressants. Its’ an arrestable offence possessing Class A and Class B drugs.

DEFINITION OF BODY PUSHERS

These are persons that use vaginal or rectal insertions of articles or hazardous substances in order to hide them from custody or police staff. “Safety searches” are done to trace these articles. Drugs such as heroin, amphetamines, cocaine, hash, ecstacy are also hidden. “Drug offence searches” must be done to trace this contraband. Packets are well-prepared in multiple layers of condoms, foils, latex, or cellophane. The persons are frequently referred to as mules or couriers. These drugs or contraband are used as currency in prisons in exchange for money or other contraband.

DEFINITION OF BODY STUFFERS
Body stuffers are persons who IMPULSIVELY ingest or insert articles in body orifices in order for custody staff not to find these articles on their person or in their cells. Because this contraband has not been well-sealed, the packets tend to break open and overdose the inmate or body stuffer.

DIAGNOSING THE BODY PACKER, PUSHER OR STUFFER
The diagnosis can be done by means of intimate body searches, x-rays, ultrasound or contrasted CAT scans. The diagnosis is to be considered when an inmate suddenly collapses in the prison service with signs of a drug overdose

Illicit drugs seen on Erect Abd X-ray

TREATMENT OF BODY PACKERS OR BODY STUFFERS
– Whole bowel irrigation
– Prolonged observation for the development of bowel obstruction or overdose symptoms and signs
– Laxatives
– Laparotomy in cases of life-threatening bowel obstruction or concealed bag rupture

INTIMATE SEARCHES
Intimate searches can be done when there are resucitation equipments available. There is always the risk of vasovagal attacks on extraction of foreign articles from body orifices. The risk of a sudden asystole is a scarce but real one.

The correctional health practitioner is required to ask consent to perform an intimate body search (also called a body cavity search). If the inmate should refuse, the correctional health practitioner would be behaving unethically, but not unlawfully in continuing with the procedure. The inmate has to supply good and valid reasons for refusing x-ray or scanning for hidden objects

Communication of the risks involved with the ingestion of articles into the alimentary or genito-urinary tract is important. The inmate’s life could be at risk due to bowel obstruction, bowel perforation and overdose. The correctional health practitioner should convey the messages clearly to the inmate.