Daily, someone being booked into the Salt Lake County Jail is caught with contraband such as a weapon, handcuff key or balloon full of drugs. A digital security system installed this week is expected to reduce sharply the number of banned items smuggled into the jail, as well as nearly eliminate strip searches, a benefit for both prisoners and staff, said Sheriff Jim Winder, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “We know contraband is being introduced into our facility,” Winder said, announcing the purchase of two SecurPASS whole body scanners. “We're well on our way to making this place safer.”
This year, there have been 500 incidents of contraband smuggling, including one involving an inmate with 25 balloons of heroin. The SecurPASS scanners produce a detailed image of lungs, bones and body cavities, but not facial features or private parts. The image also shows narcotics, weapons, sharp objects and other contraband inside clothing or body cavities. Under legal standards, people being booked into jail cannot be subjected to a strip search unless there is a reasonable suspicion that they have contraband. About 10 percent of the 120 people processed a day are strip searched. The two machines cost under $300,000 and were bought with profits from prisoner purchases at the commissary.