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Tenn. DOC adds body scanner tech for all entrants

Updated security protocol for all staff, visitors, volunteers and all other personnel began on January 1, 2023


Contraband, including drugs and cellphones, intercepted at the Northeast Correctional Complex, a Tennessee DOC facility, in March 2021.

Tennessee Department of Corrections / Facebook

By Greg Friese

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Correction now requires every person entering a TDOC prison to be screened by a body scanner to prevent the smuggling of contraband.

A department press release explained that staff, visitors, volunteers, and all other personnel will still be required to abide by current security protocols, including walking through a metal detector and allowing all belongings, outerwear and shoes to pass through an X-ray machine. A person will also be required to undergo a pat-down or wand search.

“Like all correctional agencies across the country, Tennessee is in a constant battle to keep contraband out of our facilities. We are committed to meeting the evolving threat and our mission of operating safe and secure prisons,” Interim Commissioner Lisa Helton said. “The scanners will give our staff the ability to see what the naked eye cannot and add an extra layer of protection to our current approach.”

The body scanners should act as deterrents for individuals considering bringing contraband into a Tennessee DOC facility.

“Contraband is not just drugs – it is anything not distinctly allowed in our facilities. That could include tobacco, cell phones, weapons, and other electronics. Items like these breed an unsafe environment for everyone inside and can interfere greatly with the rehabilitation of offenders,” Helton said.

Anyone attempting to introduce contraband into a Tennessee DOC facility will be arrested and could face criminal prosecution.