New technologies to help jail security

Posted at: 10/31/2012 6:19 PM
Updated at: 10/31/2012 6:39 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News

A week after Bernalillo County Jail officials reportedly found drugs inside a package for an inmate, Chief Ramon Rustin told KOB Eyewitness News new technology will help significantly reduce the chance of this happening again.

As it turns out, the county commission set aside money for the equipment months ago.

The plan for full-body and mail scanners has been in the works for months but it has yet to be implemented.

"We'd like to see the program implemented as soon as possible," Commissioner Wayne Johnson said.

Back in July, the county budgeted $475,000 for the jail to buy full-body and mail scanners; new technology to help keep drugs from being smuggled to inmates.

Last week, Chief Rustin said, a special delivery for an inmate with a medical condition turned out to actually be drugs, suboxone, marijuana and tobacco, stashed inside milk cartons.

"Last week's contraband or smuggling discovery just kind of highlights the need for these body scanners and the mail scanner that would be part of this program," Johnson said.

When asked if this technology could have prevented last week's incident altogether, Rustin said, "Probably, because we would have scanned that package and probably would have saw there was something in a couple bottles."

Rustin said he was hoping the process would not take so long, and added they are still bidding with independent contractors, a third party, who will be hired to man the machines and do the actual scanning instead of jail staff.

"With the whole transparency thing, and we have to be beyond reproach, we have to advertise, we have to have an evaluation and write the specs to make everything fair," Rustin said.

Rustin said scanners in jails is a new concept. He knows of jails in Chicago and Florida that currently use such technology.

Once a contract is finalized and approved by commissioners, Johnson said they are expecting the scanners will be implemented by January or February.

"This is an urgent issue that we need to have the mail scanners, we need to have the body scanners, so we can reduce the amount of contraband going in the jail," Johnson said.