Pennsylvania Jail System Tightens Controls on Contraband

A $95,000 body scanner will give deputies in Crawford County a new way to stem the tide of illicit items.

by Keith Gushard, The Meadville Tribune / August 24, 2018
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(TNS) — SAEGERTOWN, Pa. — A body scanner is being purchased for $95,000 at no cost to county taxpayers to help stop potential contraband from being smuggled into the Crawford County jail.

The Crawford County Prison Board voted 6-0 on Thursday to purchase the scanner from Nuctech Co. Ltd. with updates to software and equipment included the first two years. In addition to the purchase price, there is a $6,000-per-year computer programming fee beginning the third year.

The scanner is similar to those used at airports and would be used to detect drugs, weapons and other prohibited items hidden on an inmate.

Warden Kenneth Saulsbery told the board he wanted to obtain a scanner in light of multiple incidents at state and local prisons sickening both staff and inmates.

Between Aug. 6 and 13, there were five incidents of an unknown substance causing illness to a total of 18 staff at state prisons in Mercer, Greene and Fayette counties, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Three of the five incidents were at the state prison in Mercer County. There also was an incident Aug. 14 at the Butler County Prison that sickened six of its staff members — four guards and two nurses.

Saulsbery told the board the total cost, including subsequent programming fees, can be paid from the jail's inmate commissary fund. The commissary fund, used to purchase items to benefit all inmates, gets its money from inmates who pay for outgoing phone calls and through the sale of toiletries and snacks.

The county may be eligible for up to a $40,000 grant from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania toward the purchase of scanning equipment, Saulsbery said. If a grant is obtained, those funds could be put into the inmate commissary account, he said.

The scanner is expected to be ordered before the end of the month, but its anticipated installation date is unknown, Saulsbery said following Thursday's Prison Board meeting at the county jail in Saegertown.

©2018 The Meadville Tribune (Meadville, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.