New technology at Mahoning Co. Jail prevents inmates from hiding drugs

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – For decades, Mahoning County Jail has kept criminals charged with all kinds of crimes locked away from the public.

But prison officials are finding more illegal contraband coming into the jail with the inmates in light of the opioid epidemic.

The jail’s new body scanner will fix that.

“For something that costs about $118,000 and we went out to debt for that but really, this thing is going to end up cleaning up our jail quite a bit,” Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said.

Inmates are always searched when they’re booked into jail but Greene said people are getting more creative in an attempt to sneak in drugs and other items.

Whether the drugs are inside the person or on the person, Mahoning County Jail has to find them.

“It’s a problem. We have limitations because many of the individuals are pretrial detainees so we’re limited in our ability on how we can search,” Greene said.

Without touching the inmate, the scanner can pick up everything just like an X-ray machine — but without large amounts of radiation.

“It penetrates clothing, you’re able to identify anything that the person may have swallowed — whether it’s in the bowels, in their throat, their pocket, or their shoes,” Greene said.

This week, deputies are getting trained on how to use the scanner.

The jail will still follow Ohio code with males scanning males and females scanning females.

“We’ve had overdoses in our jail before. All of our officers in every pod are manned with Narcan now because inmates were able to get it in,” Greene said. “This will cut way, way down on that.”

If found with contraband, inmates face additional felony charges.


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