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Judge OKs evidence from body scanner at Idaho jail

The inmate, who was returning from furlough, was the first person the jail’s body scanner was used on

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A motion to suppress evidence from the body scanner and statements made by Jeremy L. Huntley was denied. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nati Harnik/AP

By Kaylee Brewster
Lewiston Tribune, Idaho

LEWISTON, Idaho — A judge has upheld evidence from a body scanner at the Nez Perce County Jail that found contraband on an inmate returning from furlough.

A motion to suppress evidence from the body scanner and statements made by Jeremy L. Huntley was denied by 2nd District Judge Michelle Evans on Friday, according to a news release from the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office.

Huntley, 39, of Lewiston, was the first inmate the body scanner was used on when it was purchased in August. Huntley was incarcerated at the county jail before he was transported for a rider program, where the court retains jurisdiction as he receives treatment and programming.

Huntley was given a four-hour furlough Aug. 14 to collect personal items before being taken to the Idaho Department of Corrections, according to court documents.

Nez Perce County Detention Deputy Kael Brink testified in a Jan. 25 hearing that, before an inmate is released, the deputies review inmate communications to check if the inmate may return with contraband. Brink testified that Huntley was likely meeting with someone while he was on furlough to bring back contraband, according to court documents.

When Huntley returned, he showed erratic behavior that made jail staff believe he was under the influence of narcotics. For those reasons, Huntley was kept in a cell in the booking area until the body scanner could be used.

The body scan taken Aug. 15 showed abnormalities that indicated contraband. Brink interviewed Huntley after he was given a Miranda warning and Huntley allegedly admitted he had contraband inside his person.

Later, allegedly three packages were found and removed from his person and he was charged with introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, according to court documents.

The packages allegedly included a capped hypodermic needle, 8.55 grams of an unknown pink substance, one fentanyl pill and 3.24 of methamphetamine, according to the news release.

Cuddihy filed a motion to suppress any evidence obtained from the body scanner, which was conducted without a search warrant, and any statements made by Huntley, according to court documents.

Cuddihy argued that the use of a body scanner was an investigative tool, not an inventory search in this case. He wrote in his motion that almost 24 hours had passed from when Huntley returned to the jail and when he was searched, which would have given the jail staff enough time to get a search warrant, according to court documents.

Evans heard testimony Jan. 25 and the county prosecutor’s office then filed a response to the motion Feb. 16 . In the response, Prosecutor Justin Coleman wrote that it was a reasonable search and seizure in the interest of security, citing case law where strip searches were conducted and are more intrusive than a body scan.

Coleman also argued that Huntley agreed to the scan and allegedly made statements admitting to bringing in contraband and had opportunities to not bring in the substances.

Evans wrote in her decision that detention staff weren’t required to get a search warrant before using the body scanner on Huntley. Case law establishes that correctional facilities can have search policies to prevent contraband or if the search is considered reasonable. Evans said that a search of an inmate returning from furlough would be considered reasonable. Evans also said Huntley’s consent to being searched allowed the use of the body scanner, according to court documents.

Evans wrote that Huntley was the first inmate subjected to the new X-ray body scanner used at the county jail. Before it was used, Brink received training on the scanner and policies were established that the scanner would be used for inmates leaving and returning from work release, new arrests, cell searches and other times jail staff had reasonable suspicion. Inmates also have a choice on whether they wish to be scanned, according to court documents.

“This was an important case for us locally to establish this is an accepted way to make sure drugs are not smuggled into the jail,” Coleman said in the news release. “Hopefully it will continue to deter any effort to bring contraband in.”

Nez Perce County Sheriff Bryce Scrimsher thanked the Nez Perce County Commissioners for getting the body scanner to the jail.

“I especially want to thank my Detention Deputies for how they handled this case and their efforts at providing safety for our jail staff and inmates,” Scrimsher said in the news release.

During his testimony, Brink said that it’s important narcotics and contraband don’t enter the facility for the safety of the inmates and the deputies. The body scanner has become an “invaluable” tool at the jail, according to court documents.

“Not only has it prevented narcotics from entering our facility since its installation, but narcotic activity within inmates has significantly decreased,” Brink said, according to court documents. “We really can’t take into account how valuable it is. It’s already saved lives just by existing in our facility acting as a body scanner and as a deterrent.”

Brewster may be contacted at or at (208) 848-2297.


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