May 4, 2016 8:13 AM

NH lawmakers consider X-ray scanners at prisons to curb influx of contraband to inmates

CONCORD - Lawmakers are considering a proposal to equip state prisons with full-body X-ray scanners that would screen staff, inmates and visitors to help cutback on illegal contraband being snuck in to prisoners.

The Concord Monitor reported the six machines would together cost an estimated $1.1 million and likely replace existing metal detectors in the hopes of catching drugs and other contraband hidden in people’s clothing or within their bodies.

Records provided by the Department of Corrections show the drug trade is active behind the walls of all three state prisons: the men’s facilities in Berlin and Concord, and the women’s prison in Goffstown. Within the last year, prison officials wrote 18 citations to Concord inmates, 13 to Berlin inmates and six to Goffstown inmates for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, records show.

In that same time, officials filed 255 citations in Concord, 94 in Berlin and six in Goffstown for inmates possessing, distributing, manufacturing or introducing illicit drugs or alcohol into the buildings.

More than 2,630 inmates are in the state prison system. Roughly 85 percent of inmates who come in have abused drugs or alcohol, and about 25 percent of those are addicted, the department estimates. The department doesn’t track how many drugs are seized inside the prisons each year.

One correctional facility in New Hampshire is already making use of X-ray machines with success, officials said.

The Strafford County jail in Dover began leasing a full-body scanner last year, and uses it to screen all inmates except pregnant women, according to Chris Brackett, captain of security and operations.

The machine costs $250,000, is known as a SecurPASS and looks like a metal detector. Inmates stand on a moving platform that passes them through the machine in a process that takes roughly 1½ minutes.

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