Increasing security: new full body scanner at Carter County Jail

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - The Carter County Jail recently installed a full body scanner as an increased security check for inmates.

"It's a full body scanner. It's very low dose. It takes approximately 1,000 trips through this scanner to equal one x-ray," says Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford.

The scanner prevents inmates from trying to smuggle in any type of illegal or prohibited items into the facility as they go in and out.

"The problem in correctional facilities, any correctional facility is the introduction of contraband, it be drugs, weapons, cell phones," Lunceford says.

Lunceford says inmates will try to keep the contraband hidden in inconspicuous places on their body, beyond the extent of a strip search.

"They put these items in body cavities. The outside we can take care of, but we cannot enter a body cavity obviously," Lunceford says.

In order to conduct such a search, law enforcement officers need probable cause to obtain a search warrant, and a medical doctor must be present. If the scanner detects an item in a body cavity, that's enough for probable cause.

"The printout of the item will make it extremely easy to get a search warrant," Lunceford says.

The sheriff didn't say how much it costs, but says the device is the only one of its kind at a county jail in Tennessee. He also says no tax-payer dollars were used for it's purchase.

"We were able to use inmate telephone system funds over a couple of years to purchase the machine," Lunceford says.

County Commission Chairman Robert Acuff supports the purchase.

"It really gives the sheriff in our particular county an opportunity to do something different to set the pace and that's always good to hear. I laude the sheriff and his group for doing that," Acuff says.

The scanner has been in operation for several weeks, and its proving a deterrent to contraband.

"We're not finding so much in the body scan, they're giving it up before. So, we still of course, run them through the body scanner but, they're turning it in themselves before they enter the facility," Lunceford says.

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