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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Keen Mountain Correctional Center's Strip Search Saga: An Inmate Seeks Justice, Not Just His Pants

Written by: Sam Orlando

"The Search for Reason in a Sea of Searches"

ROANOKE, VA - Keen Mountain Correctional Center (KMCC) finds itself in legal hot water, and let's just say, this one has less to do with the water temperature of the showers. Inmate Deon Carter has filed a lawsuit alleging that a strip search policy for video visits at the correctional facility strips more than just his clothing—it robs him of his constitutional rights. Yes, you read that right: Deon Carter claims that officers stripped him of his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights while he was already stripped of, well, everything else.

Setting the Scene: "Keen Mountain Correctional Center: Where Strip Searches Abound"

Filed on September 11, 2023, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Carter's civil rights complaint, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accuses Warden Israel Hamilton and Correctional Sergeant D. Squire of violating his rights through, what he describes as, an "excessive and calculated form of harassment." In layman's terms, that means he was forced to strip naked and undergo thorough examinations before and after non-contact, supervised video visits with family and friends.

The Plaintiff's Story: "Deon Carter: A Man More Searched Than Google"

Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place—or, more appropriately, between a strip search and a video screen. According to the complaint, Carter underwent a whopping total of 52 strip searches within 20 days for the simple privilege of video chatting. The complaint details an exhaustive list of days and number of searches, making it read like the world's worst advent calendar.

And just so we are clear again, these are video visits. The inmate wasn't actually meeting anyone physically, raising a legitimate question... just what was the officer searching for?

The Defendants: "Warden Israel Hamilton and Officer D. Squire: The Strip Search Enthusiasts"

Squire, who allegedly administered these searches, reportedly told Carter he could "always choose not to attend his video visits if he didn't like being strip-searched." In a delightful show of circular reasoning, Squire explained that the practice was "happening whether we like it or not."

One can only wonder if the irony of discussing choice while forcibly removing someone's clothing was lost on him.

The Fine Line Between Safety and Infringement: "Constitutionality Meets Contraband"

Here's where things get more serious: Carter's case underscores an egregious imbalance of power, one where the very policies purported to ensure safety turn into tools of humiliation and dehumanization.

The lawsuit alleges that in order to visit your family for a few minutes by video, but you have to submit to invasive strip searches at Keen Mountain. This kind of policy allegedly creates a hostile environment for inmates, who are forced to be subjected to intimate personal searches to maintain contact, by video, with their families.

The Catch-22: "To Visit or Not to Visit: The Cruel Choice Inmates Face"

The suit claims that because of these invasive searches, many inmates had their families cancel or flat-out refused to attend their video visits. Let that sink in. The policy ostensibly put in place to ensure safety actually discourages familial contact, a crucial element for inmate rehabilitation.

Legal Landscape: "The Constitutional Conundrum: Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, Oh My!"

Carter is seeking a declaratory judgment, an injunction against Warden Hamilton, and a sizable chunk of change—$500,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages from both defendants. That's enough to buy a lot of video visits with your friends and family!

The Ripple Effect: "When Searches Scare Away the Skype Calls"

It's crucial to point out that while the case has a vein of dark humor, it revolves around deeply serious allegations. If proven true, they indicate not only a violation of Carter's constitutional rights but also raise questions about systemic issues within correctional facilities.

Closing Thoughts: "Between the Gavel and the Squat-and-Cough: The Balance Yet to be Struck"

As we chuckle at the absurdity, let's not forget the gravity: the stripping away of basic human dignity is no laughing matter. As Carter's case moves forward, one thing is certain: this lawsuit is doing more than just pulling down pants—it's lifting the lid on practices that may need urgent reform.

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