Covering Kentucky

Apr 2, 2013 12:52 PM

Body Scanner Helps Keep Contraband Out Of Jail

LOUISVILLE (AP) - A new high-tech body scanner at the Jefferson County jail has been so successful at helping keep out contraband that officials want to purchase another one for a different jail facility downtown.

The Courier-Journal reports the scanner has found a myriad of things - drugs, cell phones, lighters - and has resulted in an almost 50 percent increase in contraband seizures.

Jail Director Mark Bolton says the $250,000 item "has been a real boon to us" because it has increased security at the institution and made it safer for staff. It was installed in late December.

According to data from the jail, officials found contraband on incoming inmates 123 times from Jan. 10 through March 15, which is a 48 percent increase when compared to the same time period last year.

Bolton said Louisville's main jail facility houses about 2,000 inmates and has struggled for years with contraband slipping through with previous security methods of visual inspections and patdowns.

Jail spokeswoman Kelly Feiock says the scanner is especially helpful with finding items hidden in body orifices.

Bolton said the scanner helps in other ways too - some inmates now give up contraband when told they will be scanned.

Florida-based jail and prison consultant Ron McAndrew said scanners can help liability issues that arise from searches in addition to improving jail security.

He said searching body parts for hidden items can be misconstrued as sexual harassment or assault.

"Contraband is a serious issue in any place of incarceration, from juvenile hall to death row," McAndrew said, noting that lighters can be used to set fires and riots have been linked to inmates who are intoxicated.

Bolton said the scanners won't totally eliminate contraband from the jail, but it has reduced it significantly which makes it worth the cost.

"One of the biggest dangers contraband presents is to our staff," he said, "and if it protects them, it's worth it."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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