Printer Friendly

Developing testing methodology for the use of noninvasive whole body scanners.

Authors' Note: Opinions expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contraband interdiction in correctional environments is a dynamic and ever-advancing security discipline. Correctional agencies employ the use of a number of contraband detection technologies including walk-through metal detectors, hand-held metal detectors, ion mobility spectrometry, alcohol sensors and other forms of technology to identify the presence, use of, or movement of illegal contraband throughout an institution. However, the profession as a whole has not deployed technology designed to detect plastic or wood contraband other than medical X-ray. With the continued progress in security technology, correctional practitioners continue to move toward noninvasive inmate search techniques.

For more than the past decade, three major types of noninvasive whole body scanner technologies have emerged in law enforcement and security professions that would be applicable for use in a correctional environment: millimeter wave, low-dose backscatter X-ray technologies, and transmission X-ray technology. For all three types of technology, software allows for faces and private areas to be blurred and provides options for retrieving, storing, printing and sending an image once it is cleared from the screen. Millimeter wave technology (i.e., terahertz nonionizing submillimeter microwave radiation) can see through clothing and provides a fuzzy image of a fully exposed body, enabling a correctional professional to detect potentially dangerous items without touching the inmate. However, this is a relatively new technology that only recently has developed to allow detection of smaller quantities of drugs, nonmetallic sharpened weapons (i.e., wood, glass) or small contraband items such as handcuff keys. This technology will continue to evolve to detect smaller contraband but must be tested prior to implementation to ensure it provides the level of detection desired for corrections applications.

Low-dose backscatter X-ray technology personal security screening systems (e.g., commonly called bodyscan) can also detect contraband on or under an inmate's clothing. Several state correctional agencies and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) have tested to determine if routine use of the low-dose backscatter X-ray technology is effective for detecting nonmetallic contraband in prisons. On the federal level, Sandia National Labs conducted tests as far back as 1992, and its test results concluded the technology was safe and effective for detecting nonmetallic contraband. The technology has been deemed safe, if used in the correct manner, by a number of federal agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Health Physics Society and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI has published a standard concerning the use of the security scanner. In federal law enforcement, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been using these scanners for some time and the Transportation Security Administration plans to deploy 80 of the bodyscan machines in major airports during 2009.

There is a new and very promising security technology that has been commercialized from the health care profession into corrections: full body transmission X-ray technology. Although widely available throughout Europe and South Africa, where it was developed, it has just now become available in the continental U.S. The company marketing this technology claims it to be a complete security screening portal, and it is now undergoing testing and evaluation by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and several jails.

Proponents of this technology suggest that it can detect narcotics, metallic and nonmetallic weapons, plastic and liquid explosives, chemical and biological materials, and components of explosive devices. Compared to the previous two technologies, adherents claim a field of view advantage and object detection efficiency. The technology has been marketed in the U.S. as SecurPass, as Conpass in Europe and as SecurePath in other countries. The company reports that SecurPass is approved by the FDA and under the auspices of the North American Free Trade Agreement, although no units are currently deployed for use in any U.S. correctional facility. According to the vendor, hundreds of transmission X-ray technology units are being used worldwide in airport screening and mining applications, and the national Mexican prison system has placed an order for 52 units.

The BOP's Office of Security Technology (OST) has been monitoring the development of the transmission X-ray body imaging systems for some time, and evaluated the original Conpass system more than four years ago. At that time, the price was $250,000, and the radiation exposure exceeded ANSI standards for personnel security screening devices. Now the price approaches $150,000, and the new SecurPass system meets ANSI standards as a "limited use" system designed for personnel security screening applications. Effective radiation dose is 0.2 uSv per scan, which is double the exposure of the backscatter ("general use") X-ray body scan devices, but still well within the ANSI standard limits.

The SecurPass system has an exposure tracking system that allows staff to enter the name and identification number of the subject scanned, which will record and track annual exposure limits automatically. This meets one of the requirements for "limited use" classes of security scanners. The SecurPass is safe for operators as long as they remain at least one meter away from the X-ray source. Personal dosimeter (radiation measurement) devices are not required to be worn but area badges may be recommended. Only one scan of a person is required and will detect secreted contraband in both posterior and anterior cavities. The unit is large and its footprint is 10 feet by 10 feet and weighs 1,300 pounds, and it is tall enough to scan a person who is 6 feet 9 inches.

Through continued refinement of micro-electronics, the same company offers a hand-held, portable derivative slot-scanning device. This "field pack" unit will be suitable for forensic field work such as X-ray penetration and imaging of food service pallets, truck loads and large quantities of industrial materials that enter and exit most correctional facilities on a daily basis. The images can be transmitted wirelessly to a remote collection site.

OST plans to evaluate both stationary and hand-held components of the system as a pilot project. As with all security technology being evaluated for deployment, there are correctional security, health services and legal issues that need to be resolved prior to implementation of a transmission X-ray scanning system. Initial deployment may need to target areas where the system would most be used, such as receiving and discharge.

The life safety of varied scanning technologies has undergone considerable discussion, often with conflicting information circulated among corrections professionals. For those correctional practitioners and administrators responsible for evaluating, approving and installing these scanning devices, it is important to understand the science of X-ray technologies and its varied impact on the health of staff, the public and inmates who will be in close proximity when the technologies are deployed. For more information on this, please see the next page for quoted material from the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) Presidential Report, Screening of Humans for Security Purposes Using Ionizing Radiation Scanning Systems, which was prepared at the request of the FDA.

Based on OST's evaluation, a preliminary deployment at a high-security federal prison during a two-year evaluation period found the bodyscan did locate an increased number of plastic weapons and was a general deterrent to the inmate population. The BOP plans to soon deploy the technology at 12 high-security facilities. It is anticipated that it will be used largely at the portals to prison industry sites to screen inmates exiting the factory during lunch and at institution recall. However, each institution will determine where the device should be located to meet existing and emerging security needs.

As clearly shown by the FDA Presidential Report, when designing a testing methodology for any of these technologies, the agency must ensure that its rules and policies are adhered to by the testing team. For the BOP, compliance with 28 Code of Federal Regulations 552.11, Searches of Inmates using Electronic Devices, and other BOP search policies is paramount. Additionally, there are federal regulations and guidelines that have been published regarding the safe use of bodyscan systems, including:

* ANSI/HPS Standard N43.17-2002--Radiation Safety for Personnel Security Screening Systems Using X-rays

* National Council for Radiation Protection (NCRP) Commentary No.16-Screening of Humans for Security Purposes Using Ionizing Radiation Scanning Systems

* ISCORS Technical Report 2008-1 Guidance for Security--Guidance for Security Screening of Humans Utilizing Ionizing Radiation

This project will be accomplished with existing personnel and at minimal cost. Most of the 18 personal security screening systems spread out at the 12 U.S. penitentiaries were received via surplus property from CBP. The BOP is working to have them installed, operationally checked out and certified, and to have a radiation survey completed.

In the days of correctional fiscal austerity, it is important to minimize the impact on staffing required to operate the bodyscan machines. Staff already are used at posts where inmates are screened exiting work areas, such as Federal Prison Industries, to operate walk-through and hand-held metal detectors, operate X-ray machines, conduct pat searches, and even conduct strip searches. For the correctional practitioner, using and operating the bodyscan devices will provide for one more electronic device that will assist in searching inmates for contraband. This technology is designed to compliment, not replace, other search techniques. However, in the long run it may limit the use of some of the other devices, which could reduce the amount of time it takes to screen inmates.

All staff who will operate the bodyscan security screening device should be trained. A Bodyscan Security Screening System Basic Familiarization Course will be made available to all staff either through DVD or online distance learning. An operator's manual will be provided to each institution for follow-up training.

OST, in partnership with other disciplines, will compare assault data before and after use of the security screening systems to evaluate its effectiveness. OST will determine if any reduction in assaults with weapons both on inmate and staff occurred that can be linked to the use of this technology. It is hoped that cost avoidance can be achieved from a reduced number of assaults associated with the reduction of nonmetal weapons confiscated through the use of the bodyscan machine.

Taken together, the above guidelines can help to ensure that a correctional agency can develop a successful testing methodology for the use of noninvasive whole body scanners in secure correctional environments.

RELATED ARTICLE: Excerpts From Radiation Scanning Report

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the responsibility for regulating the manufacture of electronic products that emit ionizing and nonionizing radiation and is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has the responsibility of providing security measures for transportation activities. The FDA asked the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) for advice on radiation protection issues concerning exposure to ionizing radiation from radiation-producing devices used for nonmedical security purposes. These devices, particularly X-ray scanning systems, are being evaluated by various agencies (e.g., U.S. Customs Service and TSA) for use in security screening of humans.

The use of such scanning devices involves a broad societal decision that needs to be made through appropriate procedures by the authorities utilizing the X-ray producing electronic products (and other types of ionizing radiation producing systems) as a security device for screening humans. This report provides an evaluation of radiation levels, radiation risk, and radiation protection measures that should be taken into consideration by implementing authorities. However, NCRP cannot render an opinion of the net benefit of using these devices based on the ionizing radiation aspects alone.

This Presidential Report from NCRP presents radiation protection advice concerning ionizing radiation-producing devices that are being evaluated for various uses in screening of humans for the purpose of security. Chief among the devices being evaluated at the present time are scanning systems that utilize X-rays. This report addresses systems using ionizing radiation, but also describes briefly some systems under consideration that utilize nonionizing radiation sources.

The report stresses that this advice is limited to radiation matters such as the levels of radiation exposure encountered, the radiation risk associated with ionizing radiation in general (as well as the risk associated with the actual levels encountered), and application of NCRP radiation protection principles to this radiation source. The overall justification for use of such devices for specific security applications and what constitutes a net benefit to society are broader questions that are outside of NCRP 's role as defined by its congressional charter.

Government agencies and other institutions are considering the use of ionizing radiation scanning systems for national security, protection of life, detection of contraband or the prevention of significant economic loss. These applications might involve scanning a large number of members of the general public or they might involve the investigation of a small number of suspected individuals. The benefit of such procedures would be to a segment of society or society as a whole, as would be the case for national security or detection of contraband.

Two types of X-ray scanning systems currently exist for security screening of individuals: backscatter systems and transmission systems. With backscatter systems, the X-rays do not penetrate to depths much beyond the surface of the individual, so they are useful for imaging objects hidden under clothing but are not useful for detecting objects hidden in body cavities. Backscatter systems are currently being used in the United States by the Customs Service and by several prisons for interdiction of drugs, weapons, and contraband. A typical scan lasts about eight seconds and results in an effective dose of approximately 0.03 microsievert (uSv)1 to the individual. With transmission systems, the X-rays traverse through the body, similar to a medical X-ray, so that objects that have been swallowed or hidden in body cavities may be visible. At least one model of a transmission scanning system is currently used outside the United States to screen workers exiting mines (e.g., diamond mines) and at customs checkpoints in lieu of invasive body-cavity inspection. Subjects being scanned move through the beam in approximately 10 seconds and the effective dose per scan is on the order of 3 to 6 uSv.

Screening systems that do not utilize ionizing radiation are also available and the following types are rapidly evolving: trace-chemical detection devices, millimeter-wave holographic imagers, dielectric portals, ultrasound imagers, and quadrupole resonance analyzers (see Section 3.4). Such devices should be evaluated as alternatives to systems that utilize ionizing radiation.

National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. 2003. Commentary No. 16: Screening of humans for security purposes using ionizing radiation scanning systems, Bethesda, Md: National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

John A. Ely is security specialist for the Office of Security Technology, Federal Bureau of Prisons. Todd Craig is senior technologist for the Office of Security Technology, Federal Bureau of Prisons.
COPYRIGHT 2009 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:CT FEATURE
Author:Ely, John A.; Craig, Todd
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2009
Previous Article:Expanding distance learning access in prisons: a growing need.
Next Article:NIJ's technology assistance for corrections.

Related Articles
Industrial CT scanning speeds mold qualification.
Computed tomography scan hazard.
RSNA 2006 review: Part 2.
Six smart scans that probe without pain; Dear Miriam.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |