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Utah county jail unveils body scanner to prevent contraband

The SecurPASS machines will be used to scan several hundred prisoners a day

By C1 Staff

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Salt Lake County jail has recently unveiled two new body scanners that will be used on every inmate going in or coming out of the jail.

The SecurPASS machines will be used to scan several hundred prisoners a day, according to the Desert News.

“We know that contraband is being introduced into our facility,” Winder said. “We tried to secure it every other way we could. But when someone has it inserted into their body, that makes it extremely difficult for us. This solves that problem.

“Believe it or not, we do have individuals arriving at our facility with loaded firearms.”

On average, the jail admits one or two people a day who are carrying contraband on them at the time of their booking. So far in 2014, there have been more than 500 cases of contraband being recovered from inmates.

In one case, Winder said an inmate was still hiding 25 balloons of heroin on his body when he was processed into the jail.

The SecurPASS machines are “state of the art” and “significantly more in-depth” than an airport scanning machine. The Salt Lake County Jail is the first facility in Utah to use SecurPASS; both machines cost about $300,000 total.

They were paid for using funds collected from inmates purchasing items from the commissary and not a dime came from taxpayer money.

Due to changes to strip search laws, the jail isn’t conducting many of them and inmates are getting away with sneaking contraband behind bars.

Now the jail will be able to detect contraband located either on, or inside, an inmate in a way that isn’t intrusive.

In a demonstration, a member of the jail administration was put through the scanner, only taking 10 seconds. On screen, an x-ray -like image appeared, and items such as his badge, a pen in his pocket, a belt buckle and small balloons, which he placed in his pocket for the demonstration, could clearly be seen.

Winder said the sheriff’s office had been working with state regulators for nine months in preparation of the new scanners to make sure all privacy rules are followed as well as health codes. Despite the x-ray-like inmate, the machines use a very low level of radiation. It would take about 4,000 pictures using SecurPASS to equal one x-ray from the doctor’s office.

For their own safety, jail staff are placed behind a small barricade as they take pictures. Pregnant women and most inmates with pacemakers will not be required to go through the imaging machine.