Petition to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
The Ion Mobility Spectrometry device (ion scanners) is a drug-detection system used by Correctional Service Canada (CSC) in federal prisons. CSC has admitted ‘false positives’ occur frequently because the scanners are extremely sensitive, searching for the presence of drugs down to the nanogram. Individuals may unknowingly pick up trace amounts of prohibited substances by touching items like money or credit cards, or using certain household and hygiene products;
Ion scanners are improperly maintained due to lack of training and improper cleaning, increasing the frequency of false positives. This contradicts CSC’s Commissioner’s Directive 566-8-1 ensuring that “searching tools are routinely maintained and calibrated”;
The risk of a false positive adds an additional layer of stress for individuals visiting their loved ones. A positive hit on the ion scanner may result in their visit being denied. Visitors are powerless to dispute the results of their screening;
False positives may have serious consequences for inmates. Records of false positives go onto an inmate’s file and may affect future decisions regarding private family visits, transfers, and parole;
CSC guiding policy (Corrections and Conditional Release Act, 1992) recognizes the important role families play in the rehabilitation of inmates, yet the ion scanner is serving as a barrier to essential family support.
We, the undersigned, MOMS (Mothers Offering Mutual Support) Ottawa on behalf of all friends and family members who visit loved ones in Federal Institutions, call upon the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to conduct a full review of the alarming rate of "false positives" associated with the Ion Mobility Spectrometry, with the goal of exploring more effective alternatives for keeping drugs out of prison, while encouraging effective rehabilitation of inmates.
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