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Detecting Contraband: Current and Emerging Technologies and Limitations

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2010
2 pages
Publication Series

This article from the October 2010 issue of Corrections Today examines current and emerging technologies for use in detecting contraband in a correctional facility.


This article briefly discusses new and emerging technologies for use by corrections personnel in detecting contraband items in correctional facilities. Some of the technologies discussed include backscatter x-ray contraband detection, electric field tomography, person detection in vehicles, ion scan technology, millimeter wave detection devices, and passive magnetic field metal detection. The article briefly mentions the difference in detection effectiveness between old technologies such as radio frequency metal detectors and new technologies such as millimeter wave detection devices. A recent evaluation was conducted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center on the use of millimeter wave scanning technology at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Graterford, PA. The evaluation found that the millimeter wave device used at the facility was able to detect a wide variety of nonmetallic contraband resulting in a decrease in the amount of contraband entering the facility. 1 endnote

Date Published: October 1, 2010