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The Boston Globe



Drug-sniffing dogs at prisons shouldn’t scare away visitors

Even the friendliest Labrador retriever can seem terrifying to some people. State prison authorities should keep that in mind as they implement a new policy that will subject some prison visitors to checks by drug-sniffing canines. The policy is necessary to stem the flow of illegal drugs into prisons. But scaring away law-abiding visitors could hamper rehabilitation efforts, and authorities should make it clear that visitors with a genuine dog phobia or allergy can opt for a hand-search instead.

The state announced the new rule last month. According to state statistics, in 2011 and the first half of 2012, there were 107 incidents of visitors smuggling narcotics into prison. Overall, nearly half the drugs trafficked into prisons were brought by visitors who came only once. Drugs pose a safety risk and hinder efforts to ensure released prisoners return to society drug-free, so the crackdown is clearly warranted.

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