Illegal drug deterrent - or deterrent to
By Jason Tuite
I am incarcerated in a federal correctional
facility. There is a machine in the lobby of the institution
that is used to vacuum molecules from visitors coming into the
institution. These molecules are placed in a black box mass spectrometer.
If the molecules profile a controlled substance, the visitor
is denied entry into the institution on the basis that they are
either using, have been handling, or are in possession of illegal
Visitors are not afforded the opportunity to submit to any further
search, or present blood or urine for testing, or any kind of
direct indicator testing. They are simply sent away and told
they cannot return for a determined amount of time, an amount
of time that increases with each positive testing. My visitor,
Bill Ochse, has been turned away twice, and the last time he
was turned away he was told that he could not return for 30 days.
If he ever gives a positive reading again, he will not be able
to visit me for 90 days, and the time after that will result
in 180 days loss of visiting!
The Oregon Health Science University employs Bill in a drug testing
facility where he comes into contact with controlled substances
throughout his workday. His employer wrote a letter to Warden
Hood in this regard (see below), explaining that my visitor's
contact with controlled substances is not criminal in nature.
The letter had no effect.
Bill Ochse is a 64-year old state employee with no criminal record
who has never illegally handled a controlled substance in his
life. Since visiting is a right which is not to be taken away
without just cause, I believe his rights are being violated since
he is not guilty of doing anything wrong. He is basically being
denied visitation due to his legal occupation.
These same machines are used in airports to establish a reasonable
suspicion for further investigation, ones that are affirmed or
denied. Those testing positive in airports are not denied access
to their flights. They are simply searched further, and when
nothing is found, they are allowed access to their flights. In
prisons however, the visitor is not afforded any opportunity
for further search, but is sent away based merely on suspicion.
The administration here at FCI Sheridan has communicated that
they know innocent people are being turned away, and prison officials
have told me that contamination from our currency can set off
the machine. Since it tests in the level of nanograms, the institution
cannot tell the difference between innocent and guilty.
According to §511.14 under the CFR, visitation can be refused
or terminated only if (1) the visitor refuses any further search,
or (2) the visitor is found to be in possession of any contraband
in that further search. My visitor would have been happy to submit
to further search, but the Operations Memorandum which introduced
the Ion Tracer states that at no time may a visitor who has tested
positive be afforded the opportunity of further search. These
operational instructions are in direct contradiction to the CFR,
and I believe are a violation of my visitors' rights to clear
himself of any suspicion.
Just recently a 3-year old child was tested and sent away on
the basis of a positive reading! When I questioned administrative
staff about this, they said that the adult carrier of the child
must have been 'dirty' and contaminated the child. Our visitors
go through a lot to see us, and it is not fair to them to be
told 'bye bye' by a light on a console when they have done nothing
to lose the right to enter.
Veterinarian questions accuracy of ion
Warden Hood, as I am sure you are aware, biomedical
research is conducted on the monkeys living at the Primate Center.
Handling the monkeys requires the use of ketamine, a cyclohexamine
that causes a dissociative type of anesthesia. Ketamine is also
a very special street drug that goes by the name Special K. Opiates
are also frequently used at the center for post-operative analgesia.
The Primate Center performs around 8-14 procedures per day during
the busy season (fall and spring) that results in several animals
being dosed with opiate analgesics on any given day. Additionally,
research is conducted on cocaine, ecstasy, and countless other
basic chemical components that may leave residues on the skin
that could trigger a machine to interpret them as illicit substances
(similar chemical structure).
Both Mr. Ochse and I have searched various resources to learn
more about this Ion Tracker in an attempt to help narrow down
which of countless chemicals used at the Primate Center could
possibly be the source of a positive test. Neither of us was
able to find any information at all. This coupled with the information
that the Ion Tracker has given false positive readings on several
other people in addition to Mr. Ochse makes me, as an experienced
clinician, question the validity of this test as a screening
Mr. Ochse has expressed willingness to have his urine and/or
blood screened for illegal substances in lieu of continued Ion
Tracker screening. Given the potential for unusual residues to
be found on his skin and the questionable validity of the Ion
Tracker, I believe this is a reasonable request.
If you have any questions about the work Mr. Ochse does at the
Primate Center or drugs and chemicals used at the center, please
feel free to contact me.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Gwendalyn M. Maginnis, D.V.M.
Head, Division of Animal Resources
Oregon Regional Primate Research Center