Jail aims to stop illegal contraband at the door with new technology

Decatur
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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. -  In the past, people who were arrested and brought to the Morgan County Jail were strip-searched for contraband. But the new machine is doing away with most of the intrusiveness.

According to Sgt. Britt Parker with the Morgan County Jail, it allows for a more thorough approach.

 “They come in and we're able to do a full-body scan and scan for drugs, it helps us aid and finding that stuff that we will initially feel during a pat-down search,” he said.

The full-body scanner was recently installed in the Morgan County booking area it can see deeper than the naked eye. And according to corrections officers, some inmates are already running scared.

According to jail staff, a woman was recently arrested, patted down and scanned. In her scan, they found a small knife in a pocket in her bra.

On the x-ray image, concealed metal objects appear darker. The technology can depict cavities in a person’s body, and it will also show capsules floating through a person’s digestive tract if that’s how they’re trying to smuggle them.

“Even today, a municipality arrested someone that they had drugs hidden on them,” Parker added. “The whole time they were with him, they're saying, ‘No, I don't have anything.’ Officers explained to me that basically when he got here, he saw this machine and he knew he was going to be caught. He gave it up and told him where it was at.”

WHNT News 19’s Dallas Parker took a ride through the scanner. She hid her phone, keys, and jewelry under her jacket, all things that would be considered contraband in jail.

In seven seconds the scanner revealed everything that was hidden.

“Once it's done, we'll get an image like these two images right here, we'll be able to depict any kind of offices that have like the cell phone, watch keys and different things like that,” Parker explained as he referenced to computer monitors.

But inmates aren’t the only people who will face the new technology. Each day three corrections officers on each shift are selected, at random, to be scanned for illegal contraband.

The sheriff wants to make sure everyone who enters the jail is being held accountable.

An inmate can only go through the scanner 125 times a year. Morgan County jailers said the highest amount of arrests per person, per year, is around 50.

The jail also has a new conveyor belt scanner, similar to what is used in county courthouses. Staff said the scanners will be used for attorneys, spiritual leaders, and others who have one-on-one visits with inmates.

A portable metal detector was purchased as well. Corrections officers said it will be randomly placed throughout the jail to ensure the safety of inmates and corrections officers.

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