In Shakopee women’s prison in Minnesota, concerns have been raised regarding the persistent practice of stripping incarcerated individuals, which has been reported to trigger painful memories of past sexual trauma. Despite the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) prohibiting sexual harassment and intimidation, the institutional policies surrounding strip searches have come under scrutiny.
Upon arrival at the prison, new arrivals are subjected to a strip search as part of the intake process. This is followed by a PowerPoint presentation on PREA and the provision of information on reporting any sexual misconduct. However, the frequency of strip searches has caused distress among some inmates, with reports of feeling violated and angry.
Although changes have been implemented in 2023, such as replacing strip searches with body scanners for in-person visits, incidents of repeated stripping still occur. One individual shared an experience where she was restripped after a misunderstanding during a strip search procedure, highlighting the dehumanizing nature of the process.
The arrival process at the prison has also raised concerns. One inmate, Crystal, reported being subjected to multiple scans by an officer, leading to suspicions of contraband. Despite her denial, Crystal was placed in solitary confinement for five days, during which she experienced discomfort and pain due to a pelvic inflammatory infection. She was eventually provided with medical treatment but faced limited communication with her family during the holiday season.