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This article describes the features and testing of two available products that can detect metallic objects in mail and on and in persons.

SCANMAIL 10K, a device manufactured in England and used extensively overseas and in Canada, detects metal objects in letters, magazines, padded mailers, newspapers, paperback books, and catalogs; however, it is not an x-ray device and does not detect explosives. The scanner produces visual and audio alarms when it detects metal, while ignoring normal office items such as staples and paper clips. When the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) tested SCANMAIL at the Metropolitan Corrections Center in New York City, it was successful in detecting a blank .22-caliber bullet; a utility knife razor blade; a 3-inch piece of a hacksaw blade; a handcuff key; a penny; a small 1.5 volt battery; a blank 9 mm bullet; an electronic greeting card with wires and a battery; and a small, gold, foil-lined computer chip. Every test piece was detected in every mail item. The prison mailroom staff noted that using SCANMAIL did not significantly increase their processing time for screening mail. Although it is not a substitute for standard x-ray screening, it can complement standard mailroom security tools. Another metal detector that has been researched by the BOP is the Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS). This newly developed metal-detector chair incorporates nonmotion static detection and has two independent sensors: one mounted in the seat for detection of metals in the rectal and vaginal region and a second countertop sensor mounted on the side of the chair for metal detection in the oral region. BOSS tests have proven its ability to detect metallic contraband in body orifices.

Date Published: January 1, 1999