Ontario seeks feedback on plan to modernize regulatory framework for strip searches in jails

Ministry of the Solicitor General to receive feedback until October 31

Ontario seeks feedback on plan to modernize regulatory framework for strip searches in jails

Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General has begun seeking feedback from the public concerning its plan to modernize the regulatory framework for strip searches in jails.

According to the ministry, searches of people in custody are one of many critical tools used in correctional facilities to limit contraband’s presence and movement. They are usually conducted through technology, control measures, mail screening, background checks for potential staff, and cooperation with law enforcement partners.

The ministry noted improvements in the ability to prevent and detect contraband in recent years through investments in tools and technology and regulatory amendments that enhance the ability to routinely search staff and visitors.

The ministry confirmed that it is proposing to create an updated regulatory framework under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act for strip searches of people in custody in adult correctional institutions across the province.

The ministry said that the proposed changes are intended to reduce the number of strip searches while still protecting the safety of staff and people in custody, maintaining the security of institutions, enhancing oversight and accountability, improving human rights protections, and ensuring that individuals are treated with sensitivity and dignity when strip searches are conducted.

In particular, the ministry is considering regulatory changes in the following areas:

  • The definition of “strip search”
  • Specifying when strip searches may be conducted with and without suspicion
  • Providing guidance on how strip searches are conducted
  • Requiring more robust data collection and reporting

“Creating a safe and secure environment for staff, visitors, and people in custody while ensuring that individuals are treated with sensitivity and dignity is of primary importance to the Ministry of the Solicitor General,” the ministry said.

Those interested in participating in the consultation process may submit their comments here. The ministry will receive feedback until October 31.

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