- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

LAWRENCEVILLE, Va. (AP) — Brunswick Correctional Center officers have been strip searching inmates after some church services, and a religious leader for the prison system wants the practice stopped.

“This is not appropriate — strip searches following worship services,” said Cecil E. McFarland, president of the Chaplain Service of the Churches of Virginia Inc., a Protestant chaplain service for all state prisons.

Brunswick — a 700-inmate, medium-security facility — apparently is the only prison in the state with a post-service search policy, Mr. McFarland said.

Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said Brunswick inmates are strip searched because services are held in a visitation section outside the prison’s secure area, increasing the possibility that contraband might be smuggled inside.

Nevertheless, inmate Calvin E. Lipscomb, of South Boston, Va., said some of the 70 to 75 prisoners attending a service in the visiting area June 1 were disturbed when seven officers entered the room and pulled out rubber gloves.

“Some have vowed, ‘I’m not coming back. It don’t make no difference who comes, what type of service it is, I just ain’t coming,’” said Lipscomb, who is serving a 30-year sentence for three counts of involuntary manslaughter.

“When they strip search you … you take off everything that you have on and squat and cough as they do a cavity search,” Lipscomb, 36, said.

He said the search takes up to 45 minutes and is performed out of sight of church volunteers, who are not strip searched.

Lipscomb said the searches have been intermittent since 1999.

Mr. Traylor said in an e-mail to the Richmond Times-Dispatch that services taking place in classrooms within the secure part of the prison may not necessarily be searched.

Also, he said, those services are conducted by registered volunteers, not visitors who have not had background checks.

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