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Contraband Control and the Use of X-Rays in the Prison Environment

NCJ Number
Pacific Law Journal Volume: 16 Issue: 2 Dated: (January 1985) Pages: 409-430
P S Sexton
Date Published
20 pages
This comment considers the legal issues associated with the use of low-level radiation as an alternative to present methods for detecting contraband on inmate visitors or on inmates at the conclusion of a contact visit.
An assessment of current x-ray technology finds that modern machines can deliver medically safe doses of radiation to prisoners and their visitors on a routine basis. An analysis of the constitutional challenges likely to be encountered by those seeking to implement x-ray searches in prisons focuses on the privacy issue. The case law examined concerns searches at U.S. borders, in airports, and in prisons by means other than x-ray. The courts' willingness to permit extensive privacy invasions (including body cavity searches of inmates) when important government interests are involved leads the author to conclude that the use of low-level radiation to search prisoners and their contact visitors is constitutional. A total of 168 footnotes are provided.


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