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MagShoe: Helping to reduce contraband in corrections

Correctional officials are still missing a critical step when it comes to weapons and contraband detection


Photo IDO Security, Inc.

American Airlines Flight 63, carrying 197 people from Paris to Miami was diverted to Boston on December 22, 2001, after Shoe Bomber Richard Reid tried to ignite his shoe filled with explosives. “At the end of the day, I know I did the actions,” Reid said when entering his plea. “Basically I got on a plane with a bomb. Basically I tried to ignite it.” He also said he did not recognize the U.S. legal system.

Those incarcerated in correctional institutions know the system and attempt to introduce potential weapons and illegal contraband on a regular basis.

An Auburn Correctional Facility inmate caught court officials off guard recently when he admitted that he knew it was illegal to hide a weapon in his shoe but believed it was OK to hide a weapon in his prison cell.

Khaliq Williams, 33, accepted a two- to four-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to promoting prison contraband, a felony, but that deal hit a snag when Williams said he didn’t know it was illegal to hide a nine-inch metal rod sharpened to a point in his cell. Williams later acknowledged that he knew it was illegal to hide that weapon in his shoe while in custody and that the weapon endangered the well-being of other inmates and prison employees.

Last month a convicted murderer stabbed a female guard to death in an Arkansas prison while she was investigating whether he had an unauthorized pair of shoes. Sgt. Barbara Ester, 47, was stabbed in the side, abdomen and chest and eventually died. Ester, a 12-year veteran of the corrections department, was a property officer who investigated whether inmates had contraband items. She received a report that her eventual assailant had a pair of contraband shoes.

More than ten years passed since Reid’s failed “shoe bomb” attempt; creating a nightmare for airports and other secured facilities throughout the world. The issue is no stranger to correctional staff. They have been addressing contraband problems for hundreds of years, always seeking a new mouse trap.

These included airport-style security screening of all staff and visitors, K-9 units, scanners, increased random searches of prison cells and inmates, and stricter searches of prisoners entering prison or returning after visits to the community.

The new mouse trap
Correctional officials are still missing a critical step when it comes to weapons and contraband detection. Traditional metal detectors and security screening devices stop short of detecting metals in shoes or on the ankles and feet. This major security gap is often addressed by having staff, visitors, and inmates remove shoes before passing through metal detectors – creating long delays, discomfort and frustration, without fully allaying security concerns. Additionally, front-entrance detectors alone fail to identify weapons made from within facilities.

During January 20 – 25, a new technology called MagShoe developed by IDO Security, Inc. was launched at the American Correctional Association (ACA) conference held in Arizona. Exhibitor Jack Mahoney, U.S. representative for MagShoe, found participants had great interest in this shoe scanner for use in criminal justice settings. Live demonstrations were provided, and IDO plans to kick off a pilot program that provides qualified institutions an opportunity to incorporate this product into their security procedures for a free test period.

“Magshoe eliminates the need for ‘below knee wanding,’ in which an officer has his/her face at foot level, which can be very dangerous,” said Mahoney. “Being able to look into the eyes of the person COs are scanning creates a level of comfort and security for both parties that is unprecedented in our correctional system today.”

About MagShoe
Using the MagShoe is pretty painless. All you need to do is step in the device and the scan is complete in less than two seconds. A red light/green light indicator offers visual confirmation of the scan’s results. Upon detecting a security concern, the light flashes red, and MagShoe sounds its built-in alarm, displaying the results on its control console. This multi-sensory alert system ensures immediate response times, even in loud and crowded screening areas.

MagShoe has undergone stringent testing by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), UK Department of Transport, German BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) and others. The MagShoe provides seamless integration with existing metal detectors and procedures for a complete security solution.

Some highlights:

• Highly accurate - ignores metal normally found inside shoes to reduce false alarms
• Fully automatic and easy-to-use; no training required
• Compact and portable for use anywhere
• Thorough detection of all metals, both ferrous and non-ferrous
• Convenient, sanitary, quick alternative to manually removing shoes

IDO Security, which is headquartered in New York, designs, develops and markets the patented MagShoe shoe scanning device (SSD). MagShoe fills a critical void in today’s detectors by extending screening to the lower body and feet without requiring removal of shoes. MagShoe is currently in use at international airports, cruise lines, and government agencies.

IDO announced on Jan. 20 that following a successful trial period which concluded last December in the Geneva Central Prison in Switzerland, Swiss Prison Authorities have purchased and installed the first operational units of the MagShoe in that prison.

This Swiss installation further increases the MagShoe’s market presence in European correctional facilities, which already includes units in operation in Italy, Andorra and Ireland.

Authorities in the Swiss prison service took great interest in the MagShoe to resolve an acute problem in their prison facilities between prison wardens and legal counsels who were visiting their incarcerated clients. Security concerns about possible smuggled weapons required inspection of footwear; however, lawyers took offense at having to remove their shoes prior to prison visits.

From my experience in working in corrections, this product will address a critical security void. Processing visitors, staff, and inmates with this non-intrusive technology will enhance the overall prison environment.

Portable aspects allow for use not only in front entrances, but should be placed within the prison for routine and random checks. Inmate movements to housing units, work details, program assignments, food service, and visiting rooms will be more secure and organized after applying this technology.

IDO Security, Inc. is headquartered in New York with a subsidiary, IDO Security Ltd., located in Israel. The company produces the MagShoe in its main manufacturing facility in Rishon LeZion, Israel and offers local sales and support via a worldwide network of industry-leading distributors and system integrators. U.S. Sales are handled through JEI, Inc- a US manufacturer of communication equipment and the US representative for MagShoe.

Bob Hood has over 45 years of correctional experience at the local, state and federal levels. He retired from the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, as warden of America’s most secure prison — the United States “Supermax” in Florence, Colorado.

In his role as warden, he communicated daily with inmates such as Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bomber; Richard Reid, the Al-Qaeda “shoe bomber”; Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, along with several WTC bombing participants, Embassy bombing participants, and FBI Spy Robert Hanssen. He has significant experience in managing disruptive inmates and developing emergency plans for correctional facilities.

Security Magazine identified Mr. Hood as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People in the Security Industry,” and CBS aired a “60 Minutes” special on his ability to effectively manage the most secured prison in America.

Click here to see the “60 Minutes” special interview of Warden Bob Hood.