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Mississippi Committee Moves To Limit ‘Invasive’ Bodyscans In Prisons

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Jan 2014 06:04pm | comments
Photo Transportation Safety Administration

A Mississippi house committee is moving toward limiting the use of body scanners at Mississippi Prisons that can see through a person's clothing. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the committee wants to restrict how often prison employees and visitors are scanned.

Calling the scanners 'invasive', the bill's author Representative Dennis Debar of Leakesville says there should be a reasonable suspicion that an employee or visitor is smuggling contraband into the prison before they are scanned.

"It violates their privacy rights. Its not that they are hiding anything or guilty of anything its just they haven't done anything wrong, why should they be subjected to this type of invasive search of their person," DeBar said.

The scanners can peer through a person's clothing to their skin.

Public backlash to the scanners caused the TSA to remove them from airports last year.

Smuggling contraband is a constant struggle in Mississippi Prisons as people sneak drugs, weapons and cell phones and more to the inmates.

Representative Charles Young of Meridian, who voted for the bill, says the contraband problem is so bad that the scanners should be used more, not less.

"If you are not a part of the problem, I don't think you are going to object to the scan. And we have known for years that a lot of the contraband was being smuggled in by employees or workers of the state. my question again is, if you are innocent why would you object?" Young said.

Representative DeBar believes mass scanning could be an unconstitutional search and the bill would provide a framework for who is scanned and why.

The Department of Corrections paid 27-hundred dollars a piece for 17 body scanners.

In a letter to representative DeBar, a DoC attorney says the scanners ability to show the bare body has always been disabled, that they are not a health risk and the department does not believe they are leading to employees quitting.

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