Importance of Contraband Search Equipment

Some of contraband items that corrections officers grapple with the inmates are cell phones, electric chargers, smuggled drugs, smuggled weapons, that’s why the National Institute of Justice is now deeply involved in research projects and pilot programs to test a variety of contraband search equipment tools, such as scanning and detection devices to help detect everything from a cell phone to a knife; radio wave devices that can track a prisoner and corrections staff movement; and new computer programs that help predict where problems most likely occur.

The millimetre wave imaging system is a contraband search equipment that scans visitors to detect weapons, cell phones and non-metallic objects and is used in airports and now in correctional institutions. This device is attached through a booth, known as portal, to which a person steps into, and the device beams radio energy in the millimetre wave spectrum from antennas that rotate around the person and the reflected image of the body and any objects hidden beneath the clothing is scanned. The advantage of the millimetre wave spectrum device is in its deterrent effect, as evaluated by the airport and correctional institutions administration, but contraband that is concealed in body cavities are not detected by this device, which they see as a disadvantage, that is why the National Institute of Justice is currently funding another development of a system, such as the electric field tornography that can identify contraband inside a human body.

Another disadvantage of the millimetre wave spectrum device is its inability to detect non-metallic objects, such as improvised weapons made of wood or hard plastics, and this is where the Weapons and Non-Permitted Devices Detector (WANDD) comes into the picture, a device that can spot contraband items regardless of what are the materials, using an ultrasonic wave transmitter and acoustic receiver wherein the device uses the soundwaves produced by the transmitter and, in effect, detects hidden objects under the clothing.
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Another new contraband detection device involves radio frequency identification device (RFID), which makes use of small transponders called “tags” to track movements and these tags are made of an integrated circuit and a tiny antennae to handle radio signals and used with a network of sensors, called RFID readers, to track movements. With RFID, it can help the corrections officers provide information on prisoners’ movements and can alert staff to position themselves where there is an unusual concentration of people in a certain area; therefore, movement information, which is stored in computers, can prove useful in investigations to determine the presence of a person in a particular place at a particular time.
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Another related device to RFID is called the Correctional Operational Trend Analysis System (COTAS) which uses historical information, such as age, gang membership, escape attempts, violent incidents, medical and psychological conditions, all predicting potential trouble spots, and computer configuration to produce a predicted reading of a facility, like trouble spots in a correctional institution, where there is frequent violent incidents that would occur.