Pubdate: Thu, 19 Oct 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Hina Alam
Page: A4


Remand Centre hopes technology cuts in-custody overdoses, boosts staff

Edmonton Remand Centre inmates will go through an electronic body
scanner to counter the smuggling of increasingly toxic drugs and other
contraband into the lockup.

The scanner, similar to those used by airport security, takes a full
body X-ray. The remand centre, which showed off the new equipment
Wednesday, is the first correctional facility in Alberta to test the

New inmates, transferred inmates and inmates suspected of having
contraband will be put through the scanner, said Ken Johnston,
security director of the remand centre, which houses about 1,500
people in custody awaiting trial.

The Dutch technology can detect items hidden on the body, such as a
packet of drugs hidden in hair; a weapon strapped to a leg and even
foreign objects inside body cavities.

Inmates being scanned do not have to remove any clothing, and the
machine is capable of detecting organic and non-organic contraband, be
it weapons or narcotics.

"Has contraband increased greatly over the years?" Johnston said. "No.
It's the potency of what's coming in that is raising the concerns."

This year, the remand centre had one or two opioid overdoses, though
it is difficult to determine if they were directly related to
fentanyl, he said.

"The real concern right now is that fentanyl has increased a great
deal both on the street and everywhere," Johnston said. "Because it is
so dangerous and so deadly, I think that increases the risk

Weapons and drugs are found routinely, he said. "It's a daily
occurrence. We have to be on top of that all the time."

The device is expected to be in use by Dec. 1. It will cost $580,000 a
year to install and operate.

The government will decide whether to introduce the technology to
other provincial correctional facilities by the end of 2018, Johnston

Ontario is putting the device in all its 29 jails, while British
Columbia is using it in four jails.

"The scanner is expected to decrease in-custody drug overdoses and
staff exposure to harmful substances," Justice Minister Kathleen
Ganley, who is also solicitor general, said at the event.

The scanner will join existing security measures such as drug
detection dogs, searches, intelligence gathering and regular scheduled
rounds and checks, he said.

"Every inmate undergoes a detailed search on entering the facility,"
he said. "Nevertheless, some of this contraband remains hard to detect
and makes its way into the building."
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