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Photo: Edouard Guihaire/AFP via Getty Image

A Virginia mother wants answers after prison guards strip searched her 8-year-old daughter before she was allowed to visit her inmate father.

The unidentified mom said Diamond Peerman, the girlfriend of the girl's father, drove the girl to Buckingham Correctional Center to visit her dad on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Peerman said guards told the girl to strip after a drug-sniffing dog alerted guards to her.

The little girl hesitated to take her clothes off in front of strangers, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Peerman, who is not the child's guardian, said she told the girl this was the only way she could visit her dad.

"I told her, that means you have to take all of your clothes off or you're not going to be able to see your dad," Peerman told the Virginian-Pilot. "That's when she started crying."

State policy allows strip searches at prisons. If a visitor refuses to be searched, they can be banned from the facility.

"That's outrageous," said Daniel Macallair, executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. "It's generally regarded in the criminal justice field that you do not strip search young children."

He called the strip search "an act of child abuse."

DOC Director of Communications Lisa Kinney said the allegation was "deeply troubling" and "represents a breach in protocol."

Kinney said she would take disciplinary action against the guards responsible for the search.