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New York Jails Can Again Use X-Ray Scanners for Inmate Screening

by | Jan 25, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

Manhattan criminal defense attorney assault

In response to numerous assaults committed with ceramic blades by inmates at Rikers Island, local correctional facilities in the state of New York may again use low-dose ionizing radiation body scanners to search inmates for weapons, effective January 30, 2019.

These body scanners, which use the same type of radiation as medical X-ray machines but at lower doses, are able to detect small weapons such as ceramic blades that do not set off metal detectors. Prior to 2015, some New York corrections facilities used X-ray scanners to screen inmates for weapons. The practice was halted in 2015 due to the health risk posed by exposure to radiation.

After weighing the risk of low-dose radiation exposure against the risk posed by undetected weapons in corrections facilities, New York state legislators decided in favor of allowing X-ray screening of inmates. They were swayed by reports of assaults in which inmates wielding ceramic blades caused severe slashing injuries to other inmates or corrections officers. In New York City alone, over 100 such assaults were reported in 2017, including 11 incidents in which a corrections officer was stabbed, slashed, or cut.

Scanners to Protect Guards and Inmates in New York City Jails

State legislators amended NY Public Health law section 3502 to specifically allow local correctional facilities to use “body imaging scanning equipment that applies ionizing radiation” to screen inmates. The law does, however, require that scanner operators complete a training course approved by either the state or New York City health department.

Most large U.S. airports have switched from using ionizing radiation to non-ionizing scanners, in part due to passenger privacy concerns. Non-ionizing scanners are sufficient to detect bombs and other larger objects of primary concern to airline safety. Ionizing radiation scanners, on the other hand, are more sensitive and are thus able to detect smaller items.

This higher level of sensitivity is critical for inmate scanning in order to catch small weapons that may be hidden in inmates’ bodies or clothing, are not easily found in a pat-down search, and are not revealed by typical metal detectors. For example, ionizing radiation scanners can detect small ceramic blades of the type used in X-acto craft knives, in addition to weapons made of titanium or plastic.

Manhattan Assault Defense Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges as a result of an assault, you need an aggressive New York City criminal defense attorney. Call JOEY JACKSON LAW, PLLC at 833-JOEYJACKSON or 833-563-9522. We also defend law enforcement and corrections officers in both civil service disciplinary actions and criminal court cases.