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4 ways X-ray technology can improve your screening process

X-ray detection can help you screen more thoroughly and efficiently to catch dangerous contraband before it enters your facility

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The following is paid sponsored content by Smiths Detection.

By Corrections1 BrandFocus Staff

Correctional facilities deal with unique security challenges, and each site has its own list of prohibited items considered a threat to the safety and security of inmates, visitors and staff.

Improved X-ray technology can help COs enhance and accelerate their efforts to detect drugs, weapons, cellphones and other prohibited items concealed in or on an inmate’s body or in a visitor’s belongings. X-ray detection is not a magic bullet for catching contraband, but it can be of tremendous help in the process and is most successful as part of a layered screening strategy.

More thorough: X-ray screening provides a closer look

Traditional means of conducting searches and inspections, such as manual bag searches and pat-downs, are vital to the screening process, but they can’t provide the same level of thoroughness that X-ray screening can.

Not all scanners are created equal, however. Transmission X-ray body scanners, like the Smiths Detection B-SCAN, are particularly useful in correctional facilities because they can visualize contraband ingested and concealed in the digestive system, between toes and in other body cavities.

Until they added the Smiths Detection B-SCAN to the intake process last year, the Essex County, Mass., correctional authorities were frustrated by the inmates’ ability to smuggle in drugs, especially heroin and Suboxone opioid strips. Aaron Eastman, assistant corrections superintendent for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, says the scanner fits seamlessly into the facility’s existing intake process.

“It’s made the staff safer, it’s made the inmate population safer, it really has made the entire facility safer, and that’s our ultimate goal,” he said.

More effective deterrent: Discourage inmates from smuggling contraband in the first place

Now that they’re aware of the scanner, Essex County inmates have begun shedding their contraband on the way to the facility.

“It’s definitely a deterrent,” said Eastman. “Every inmate knows that they’re going through the body scanner. Obviously, you want to find contraband on the inmates, and you want to take it further with the criminal charges, but as long as it’s not entering your facility, you’re winning, and that’s what you have to keep in mind.”

The Smiths Detection B-SCAN system can be configured with image store and load capability, as well as offsite assessment and remote operator options. A facility can also save every image for comparison. For example, if an inmate has reconstructive surgery or leaves the facility for a court date, COs can inspect the new scan against the previous scan for any suspicious changes that might indicate contraband.

More efficient: X-ray screening is faster than manual methods

X-ray scanners also improve efficiency at security checkpoints by enabling COs to screen multiple items and people in the time it would take to do just one manually. The Smiths Detection B-SCAN system produces a high-resolution head-to-toe image of the person under review in a single pass, which takes just seven seconds. When a suspicious item is detected, that item can be flagged for additional screening or manual inspection, or the person can be placed in a dry cell for observation.

Facilities looking to enhance visitor screening may implement an airport-style X-ray system instead of manual bag searches for faster, more thorough and efficient inspection of personal belongings. For example, the Smiths Detection HI-SCAN 6040C scans items on a conveyor belt and generates detailed images of the contents, enabling COs to quickly discern the presence of materials such as possible explosive devices, weapons, drugs, food, money, or any other items that may be deemed contraband.

More safety for COs: Less demand for strip searches, lower radiation exposure

In addition to these benefits, X-ray inspection can also provide a non-invasive alternative to time-consuming strip searches, which are many a CO’s least-favorite duty. Aside from the potential ick factor, pat-downs and strip searches can place COs at a physical disadvantage, as they require close proximity that exposes officers to hands-on attacks by inmates. X-ray systems can provide the same level of information without the need for physical contact, improving officer safety.

Improvements in technology also mean that radiation exposure from transmission X-ray body scanners is much lower than in previous generations. A low-dose unit like the Smiths Detection B-SCAN delivers an X-ray dose to the person being scanned that is equivalent to eating a single banana. This is approximately 1 percent of the average person’s daily exposure to radiation. The company also provides a software program that allows users to track how many times inmates are scanned to help them comply with the regulation. Full scan records of any individual are automatically maintained that ensure safe operation and compliance with annual scanning limits.

It only takes one person successfully smuggling in one item to wreak havoc within a secured facility. By allowing COs to see objects within baggage and bodies that they would otherwise not be able to see or feel through traditional screening methods, X-ray technology provides a crucial layer of security. Using X-ray inspection systems in conjunction with other screening methods can give your facility a greater chance of keeping contraband items out while maintaining operational efficiency.

For more information about X-ray screening technology, contact Smiths Detection.