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Ohio jail halts use of inmate scanner due to health concerns

State inspectors ordered the jail to stop using the SecurPass full-body digital scanner because it uses radiation

Associated Press

CINCINNATI — A southwest Ohio jail has halted use of an inmate scanning machine because state health rules don’t allow it.

The Hamilton County Jail had been using the scanner since 2012, and it had detected a small gun, screwdriver, pocket knives, balloons full of drugs and other items hidden on or inside inmates, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

But last August state inspectors ordered the jail to stop using the SecurPass full-body digital scanner because it uses radiation.

Ohio Health Department spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said the state administrative code prohibits the use of an X-ray unless it is prescribed by a physician.

Sheriff Jim Neil said the rules are antiquated. The company that makes the scanners says they use little radiation and aren’t dangerous, he said.

The scanners are used at 100 sites in 30 other states, according to the company.

“This is a common-sense issue where outdated policies are not in line with current technology,” Neil said.

Neil has asked state Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, to help. Seitz said he thinks the issue is on the way to resolution.

Pollock said the sheriff’s office can apply for a variance. The state department is willing to look at updating the rules, but that it still must regulate any machine that uses radiation, she said.

The sheriff’s department used federal grand money to obtain the $243,000 machine.

Neil said it’s an important tool to safeguard jail employees and inmates, too.

“I’m going to use every resource available to ensure that we know what is coming into our jail,” he said.

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