Regional jails using body scanners to detect drugs entering facilities

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nine of West Virginia’s regional jails have body scanners, allowing staff to detect hidden objects including drugs as inmates enter the facility.

The full-body Soter RS Body Scanners are able to detect objects inmates are attempting to bring into facilities, including drugs and syringes.

Marvin Plumley, the assistant commissioner of the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said on MetroNews “Talkline” last week officials mostly see inmates sneaking in drugs, adding people can be creative in their methods but have not had success bypassing the scanners.

“We deal with things that you normally would not consider as being a way to introduce contraband,” he said. “You would not normally think that that’s how someone would introduce something, but they have found pretty creative ways that just with a pat search or things of that nature that we would not be able to detect substances.”

Plumley said smuggled drugs have been a problem in state facilities; at least eight female inmates suffered overdoes at the Western Regional Jail in 2017 which required the serving on Narcan. During the first half of the same year, 32 inmates statewide were hospitalized because of the use of illegal substances.

Plumley said officials noted 36 incidents in February of inmates trying to sneak something inside. No medical assistance for drug use has been administered at facilities where the scanners are located.

“Even in situations where we are not finding those objects on the individual, we are finding items they are attempting to get rid of off of their person,” he added. “Unfortunately, we see the same people, and once they know those scanners are in place, they may not be as quick to attempt something knowing that process is part of the intake procedure.”

The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety noted last week it is pursuing additional funding to bring full-body scanners to the remaining jails.

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