Installed last year, metal detectors for staff members are the latest attempt by the New Jersey Department of Corrections to keep knives, guns, cellular phones, and other contraband from entering any of the state’s 14 prisons, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.The department also is expanding the use of devices known as “body orifice security scanners,” chair-like machines that can determine if inmates are smuggling anything inside their bodies. Officers discovered a loaded 32-caliber handgun at New Jersey State Prison on Aug. 4. The Corrections Department immediately ordered inmates back to their cells and canceled visits so officers could search the prison. The facility has remained in lock- down since.
Most states do not require screening for corrections officers, as New Jersey does. “Typically, across the nation, the guards are not required to do so because the corrections officers’ union is incredibly powerful and they purport this would be an incredible invasion of privacy,” said Daniel Murphy, a professor of criminal justice at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. After a recent incident in Florida, Murphy predicted, “there’s going to be a change.” On June 21, a corrections officer at the federal detention center in Tallahassee shot at FBI agents who were trying to arrest him and five others on charges they had sex with female inmates in exchange for money and banned items. The officer and an FBI agent were killed.