Drug Testing Visitors

The Department is instituting the use of ION Scanners among other drug detection starting Fall of 2014. ION Scanners are non-invasive devices to assay a variety of illicit drugs. EDDE swabs are wiped along hands, clothing, or commonly held items like glasses and tested on the ION scanner in seconds.

Inmates, visitors, staff, employees of other government agencies, contract employees, volunteers, and mail items are subject to search in an unbiased, random fashion.

This methodology has been implemented at CSP Solano for staff and visitors

  • What drugs are being tested?  ION scanner is set to detect ILLEGALLY CONTROLLED drugs such as heroin,meth,cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy.
    Illicit drugs (illegal) are the main focus of this EDDE process. However, visitors may protect themselves from unnecessary searches by getting a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner certification for any prescribed medications. With a “doctor’s note” a positive ION scan  may require a clothed pat-down. (To comply with HIPPA, note from medical professional need not specify what visitor’s medical condition or medication is, but simply state patient may test positive in drug test due to legally prescribed medication) And yes, that includes bringing an official note from your physician regarding a Rx. for medical marijuana. Have medical professional state your name and length of time you will be on the medication, and of course their name and medical license number.

It is not set to detect prescription drugs or drugs such as: Codeine, Vicodin,  cold medicines, etc.. An explanation of the difference can be found at http://www.awarerx.org/get-informed/prescription-information/controlled-substances (http://www NULL.awarerx NULL.org/get-informed/prescription-information/controlled-substances)

 The ION scanner does not detect tobacco. We recommend visitors wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling money…such as bills you bring in for the vending machines, as drug residue is known to linger on legal tender.

 Visitor Rights:

A. Right to Refuse at Any Stage

     All inmate visitors (adults and minors) entering the security perimeter shall be required to push the “randomizer button”   a red button that randomly selects for testing. If not selected a visitor shall proceed to the visit. If randomly selected for further  screening (randomizer red light) the visitor will precede to the ION scanner search location, (a nearby room)

  • Visitor can refuse ION scan at this time but will only be authorized for a non-contact visit if this is available
  • If visitor agrees to be ION scanned, they will enter their name on sheet. If test is negative, the visitor will proceed to visit. Non-visiting staff (correctional officers) certified as ION “trained” will conduct the scan. (Both of our VISITING SGT. AND LT.  AT SOLANO WERE ALSO CERTIFIED)
  • ION scanner will be recalibrated (cleaned) after any positive result to assure accurate subsequent tests
  • ( Testing location in both A & B processing office is done in a small side room.) The visitor will have hands, or item often touched like eyeglasses, watch etc. scanned. Certified Testing Staff use a small piece of cloth to swipe area, and it is placed in ION scanner (a small machine about size of a microwave)
  • If visitor tests positive for illicit substance, Visitor can leave the grounds at this time. OR…the visitor then has the option to wash hands with soap and water then submit to a second ION scan.
  • If the second scan is positive, the visitor will be required to submit to an clothed body search as a condition for visiting. Visitor can leave the grounds at this time rather than submit to the clothed search!.   If the visitor refuses a clothed body search; there will be no contact visiting that day and the two next visits unless the visitor agrees to an clothed body search. VISITOR SHOULD RECEIVE DOCUMENTATION OF RESULTS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR VISITING with date, time and staff signature
  • Any visitor who refuses to submit to an clothed body search after three positive alerts in a one year period may be suspended from visiting at all CDCR institutions for a period not to exceed one year. Appeals to this and other Visiting issues shall be handled under Title 15, 3179. Appeals Relating to Visiting
  • If a visitor agrees to an unclothed body search and no contraband is found, the visitor may proceed to the contact visit. Clothed searches of a visitor are conducted with two CDCR staff of same sex as visitor present. A witness of visitor’s choosing can be requested but is not assured under regulations. For more information on your rights refer to  Title 15, 3173.2. Searches and Inspections
  • A record will be kept of clothed body search being conducted for legal reasons. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO THE DOCUMENT OF THE SEARCH.   However, a negative result of clothed body search (no contraband) will not adversely impact either visitor or inmate being visited.
  • If illegal substances are identified on unclothed body search, the visitor will be subject to criminal proceedings.

            -          Visitors have a right to refuse screening at any point; staff does not.

(Visitors may appeal through Title 15, 3179.  Appeals Relating to Visiting)

  • Log of Positive Results:Visitors positive drug scan results are entered in SOMS (the CDCR computer) and are accessible at all prisons you visit
  • Randomizer Button:at present will be used “randomly”….not all visiting days or hours. As this is set up currently from adults only, the CDCR may eventually scan minors also

 CDCR is delaying use of the ION scans for those under 18 at this time. HOWEVER, the Dept. Does plan on using the testing for ALL visitors in the near future.

  If two scans are positive for illegal substances, a minor would be required to submit to a pat down body search per DOM regulation.  Visitor can refuse ION scan at this time for the minor and leave prison grounds. CDCR asked for suggestions on how minors should be treated.


 Visitors: These minutes reflect the answers given to our questions. They do NOT reflect our concerns, although we certainly voiced them. Among those concerns;

            +Usage of ION scanners and drug dogs deeply intrudes upon our privacy.

            +ALL visitors have expressed their opinion that fewer drugs enter prisons illegally through visitors than through staff and we feel the target is on our back (the small stream vs. The River)

            +a concern by many that there will be ‘false positives’ they may not have any legal recourse to correct

            +Visitors will be discouraged from visiting due to: 

                        -confusion on the procedure and their rights

                        -fear of false positives

                        -threat of strip search

                        -trauma to children


ñ    Lifer’s going before the Board have Commissioners viewing SOMS on their computers that may show a positive (possible false) test for the family member they have listed in their parole plans


ñ    Strip Searches- many very concerned on this. To those who visit infrequently and spend more travel time and money this feeling of being forced to disrobe in front of staff is extremely intimidating. Knowing they either must, or lose visiting is a horrendous decision.

ñ     Slowing down already slow visiting

ñ    Not trusting that staff will really be tested, and if they are…that the positive test results will be ignored and not recorded

ñ    If a visitor tests positive after 2 scans and chooses NOT to do a strip search, they will be forced to have 2 non-contact visits before they can resume visiting. We find this as PUNITIVE. We requested that the next day they return they could have an ION swab done again…and CDCR says …NO, must have behind glass visit (non-contact)



                ANSWER: ONGOING AUDITS



















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