County jail ups battle against contraband

Staff writer

The Clarion County jail Feb. 13 took a step to better prevent the flow of contraband into the Paint Township-based facility.

Warden Jeff Hornberger provided the county’s jail inspection board with a proposal for an inmate body scanner that would be used on inmates returning to the jail or those who were on a work detail within the jail.

Visitors to the jail, though, are not subject to a body scan.

“A lot of jails across Pennsylvania are getting body scanners,” Hornberger said. “We looked at body scanners, and they have a very large footprint (size). We did not have room in our intake area for anything like that.

The body scanner that Hornberger is proposing is one that he said is similar to scanners used by airport security.

He said the dimensions of it are three-feet wide by six-feet long, and that it would fit in the jail’s intake area.

Hornberger said the jail staff received a demonstration by the manufacturer, and he wants to bring it before the board for consideration.

“I know we can’t move on this because it is costly,” Hornberger said. “But in the long term, it would be beneficial to the jail because we have a lot of contraband that has come into the jail through new inmates. It would also help local law enforcement agencies and the probation department.”

Estimated cost of the body scanner would be $100,000. Hornberger said there are lease options, and there could be some grant money available. The manufacturer would supply training.

“We all know that we have had our share of drugs coming into the jail,” Hornberger said. “Recently, we have had search issues with inmates who work within the facility. Once they are incarcerated, you can put them in the body scanner anytime you want.”

He said paper products coming into the jail could be laced with an illegal substance. At some of the larger state prisons, a device can detect the drugs, but that is something the scanner he is proposing cannot do.

Hornberger said the jail conducts pat-downs, and corrections officers can also do a cell search.

“Where do you stop with all the security measures?” he said. “Security is expensive.”