- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Inmates entering a county jail in east Georgia will now walk through the same body-scanning technology as people boarding airplanes, authorities said.

The system is a more efficient way of screening inmates at the county’s jail, Richmond County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Pat Clayton said.

The technology has already turned up about 10 items from arriving inmates, said Bill Reeves, the captain at the jail.

After a person enters the scanner, it takes 1.5 seconds for the machine to detect any foreign objects, including weapons, cigarettes, drugs or paraphernalia, liquids or plastics, The Augusta Chronicle reported (https://bit.ly/1IXqsyq).

A read-out will guide jail employees to where the objects are on the body, officials said. It is the same technology the Transportation Security Administration uses in airports, the Augusta newspaper reported.

“The old way worked, but this is more efficient,” Clayton said. “It’s an extra layer of protection.”

In the past, people would try to slip in cellphones or cigarettes, but now when faced with the machine they’re more likely to hand them over, Clayton said.

Before the machine arrived, jailers searched inmates by pat-down, strip search and metal-detecting wands.

The scanner will help in finding objects but will not take the place of pat-downs and strip searches, officials said.

Inmates accused of violent crimes or drug charges still must be strip searched, and all inmates will undergo a pat-down in addition to walking through the body scanner, authorities said.

Pat-downs are not foolproof and sometimes miss contraband that could be dangerous to other inmates and jailers, said Sgt. Lisa Rohrbaugh, who has been at the jail for 18 years and assisted in the purchase of the scanner.

“Hopefully this will combat that,” she said.

The scanner costs about $186,000 and was purchased with sales tax revenue.


Information from: The Augusta Chronicle , https://www.augustachronicle.com

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