BELLEFONTE — In order to increase safety at the Centre County Correctional Facility, the county is in the process of purchasing a full body x-ray scanner. The scanner can detect contraband such as drugs and weapons hidden on or in a person’s body.
The county board of commissioners voted to move the purchase of a scanner to next week’s consent agenda. The purchase agreement with Nuctech Inc. includes the body inspection system, two-year warranty, transportation, insurance, installation and commissioning, training and technical support. The purchase price is $95,000 with an additional extended annual warranty for three years at a cost of $6,000 per year. The total cost is $113,000.
Deputy Warden Glen Irwin said that CCCF has been looking into a scanner since fall of 2018 and reviewed five different machines and toured other facilities that have scanners in place, such as Clinton County, which has the same model the county looks to purchase.
“This machine will be used on inmates only. It will not be used on staff or visitors,” said Irwin.
He said the machine analyzes the density of objects that are in a human body and would alert officers to the location of an item if any dense objects are found. It can detect hard items such as weapons and soft items such as drugs, said Irwin.
“We believe this machine will enhance our security at the facility and assist us in the detection of contraband, more specifically illicit drugs, entering the facility,” said Irwin. “As everyone knows, over the past year in the commonwealth there have been a lot of cases of staff and inmates becoming injured and ill with drugs. This machine will benefit the safety all staff and inmate at the facility.”
Irwin said it will help people who are looking to recover from drug addiction in the facility.
“It helps us prevent a person who may have an addiction whom may be coping with it very well, but if subject B brings in something, that may fuel that persons want for the product,” said Irwin.
The machine emits a small amount of radiation and only staff that are trained by the manufacturer will be allowed to operate it, said Irwin.
Irwin said that only the warden and two deputies will be allowed to download information from the scanner, “so nobody can do anything nefarious with any of the scans,” said Irwin.
The scanner also keeps records of who operated the machine at what time and which inmate was scanned. It also tracks the number of times an inmate was scanned.
Board Chair Michael Pipe said the safety of the facility is a priority.
“It is something that we don’t want to have to do in procuring this, but with the enhanced methods and enhanced drugs and weapons, we want to make sure that we have an absolutely safe facility,” said Pipe.
Commissioners noted that the amount of radiation is very low.
“If you would take 400 scans of this machine, that would equal one scan at a hospital,” said Irwin. He also said there will be limited number of times an inmate could be run through the scanner.
“This definitely sounds like it will increase safety for inmates, visitors and staff at Centre County Correctional Facility,” said Commissioner Mark Higgins.