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3 ways tracking software can improve your facility’s screening process

Keep track of who has been scanned, how often and what was found to search inmates for contraband more efficiently

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Sponsored by Smiths Detection

By Melissa Mann for Corrections1 BrandFocus

Screening of inmates, mail, visitors and staff is a tremendous and necessary effort for every correctional facility. For a successful layered approach to the security of a jail or prison facility, both manual searches and technologically advanced screenings must be conducted.

Using X-ray detection, such as a full-body scanner, to screen inmates can help your facility catch more contraband during inmate intake; visitation; medical; work release; and other movements in or out of the secured areas of the facility.

Appropriate facility policy and procedures are also necessary. In addition to the screening equipment itself, scanner image management software can help your team to track the use of X-ray technology, the results of the screenings and the amount of X-ray exposure for each individual. When coupled with a bar code system, this technology can greatly enhance the efficiency of your screening efforts.

1. Manage screening records more efficiently

X-ray screening helps correctional staff to see concealed items that they otherwise wouldn’t. Using additional technology to track these searches can increase officer efficiency and reduce your facility’s liability while increasing security.

For example, Smiths Detection offers Scan and Image Management (or SIM) software to log and control the use of its B-SCAN body scanner. This software has the ability to record all scans to monitor annual screening limits and stores the images and data for later reference; comparison; and even as legal court documentation. You can also track who was operating the scanner and any notes that they might have made.

A system, which can use bar codes makes this process even easier. The facility can assign a bar code to each inmate and simply scan that code before the individual enters the body scanner – automatically uploading the results to that person’s record.

A system that automatically keeps track of who has been scanned, when they have been scanned and the results means less time spent on data entry by line officers or administrative staff. This leaves less margin for error while also allowing for a faster screening process. Further, the scan data can be uploaded to your jail management system for later reference.

2. Reduce liability by demonstrating radiation compliance

Using X-ray body scanners during any inmate or visitor movement in and out of a secured facility can nearly eliminate the need for strip searches and alleviate the burden of lawsuits filed against correctional institutions over inmate privacy right violations.

The annual scan count for a given person is limited so it is important to keep track of these screenings to maintain compliance with recommended limits on radiation exposure.

Some body scanners use backscatter X-rays, which emit a low dose of radiation roughly equivalent to 1/1,000th as much radiation as a single chest X-ray, however backscatter x-ray systems cannot penetrate through the body. Another type of body scanner, uses transmission X-ray, which can penetrate through the body, so they are used to detect suspect items inside as well as on the surface of the body. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements recommends that “no single source should result in an individual being exposed to more than 250,000 nSv annually.” This is based on widely recognized guidelines published by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI.

The Smiths Detection B-SCAN is a transmission X-ray system that emits between 0.25µSv per inspection (up to 1,000 scans/person/year) and 2.0µSv per inspection (up to 125 scans/person/year), depending on the model. Using software to track these scans and monitor each individual’s exposure can help you control use of the system so that any individual receives only the appropriate number of scans, which reduces the risk of potential claims from litigious inmates.

3. Flag implants or repeat offenders for more efficient searches

With a tracking system in place, your facility can flag inmates (or staff members) who have implants, such as a knee replacement, to speed up the search process. You can also compare images over time to identify discrepancies. This means that fewer follow-up manual searches are needed, boosting the efficiency of your search process.

This method can also apply to repeat offenders who have been caught with contraband more than once to establish patterns of violations and flag these individuals for increased scrutiny, such as pat-downs or strip searches.

Screening technologies, including body scanners, mobile X-ray machines and handheld devices, offer an opportunity to capture contraband as it enters a secure facility. By using the available scanning technology and software to track inmate data from entry scan through booking and release, correctional facilities can manage their screening efforts efficiently and in compliance with facility policy and mandated scanning limits.

About the Author

Melissa Mann is recently retired from the field of law enforcement. Her experience spanned 18 years, which included assignments in corrections, community policing, dispatch communications and search and rescue. Melissa holds a BS in criminal justice and an MA in psychology with emphasis in studies on the psychological process of law enforcement officers. She holds a deep passion for researching and writing about the lifestyle of police and corrections work and the far-reaching psychological effects on the officer and their world. For comments or inquiries, please contact her at