The new body scanner in the Buchanan County Jail helps search for illegal contraband in or on an inmate’s body. The scanner will create a safer environment in the jail.

The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office has a new full-body scanner that will create a safer environment for both guards and inmates in the county jail.

The $165,000 scanner essentially is an X-ray machine that is able to detect contraband on or in an inmate’s body. Before the new scanner, inmates would go through a metal detector and be subject to physical searches during the booking process.

“The main purpose is that it will allow for less close contact with inmates or detainees coming into the facility,” said Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett. “Obviously in a COVID environment or any type of infectious environment, you’re able to have less close contact with inmates and it allows for a better screening of the inmate for weapons or contraband.”

The scanner makes it easier to detect contraband and also saves time during the booking process. The sheriff’s office bought the scanner with Buchanan County CARES Act funds, as it will help limit the interaction between staff and inmates.

“This is a partnership that everybody worked together and dealt with through CARES Act money and allows for the purchase of a valuable piece of equipment that will keep everybody safe, not only healthy but safe, especially reducing the ability of introducing weapons or contraband in the facility,” Puett said.

The scanner has been in use for a couple of weeks, and staff immediately saw the benefits, Puett said. Staff found internal contraband on one of the first inmates to go through the scanner.

“It’ll make the environment safer across the board,” Puett said. “There won’t be as close contact, so you won’t take the chance of being exposed to people who might be contagious.

“It’ll also make the environment safer and healthy because you’re protecting not only the staff, you’re protecting the inmate from themselves, as well as the other inmates, because if you can keep illegal drugs out, then obviously, that saves everybody and reduces the potential for any overdoses,” Puett said.

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