A newly implemented body scanner will help stop the flow of drugs and other contraband into Lancaster County Prison, officials hope.

Prison and county staff Wednesday unveiled the newly acquired Soter RS body scanner which was implemented last week to scan inmates coming into the prison.

The goal is that the scans - which can detect contraband held internally - will aid staff in detecting illicit items before they make it inside.

"It takes an image of the full body and will hopefully reveal any contraband that is concealed either on or inside the body," Commissioner Josh Parsons said.

The scanner, from OD Security, of McAllen, Texas, is being leased-to-own at roughly $140,000 over a seven year period.

Contraband has been found in the prison 20 times so far this year, including 15 instances of drugs, according to data kept by the county. Most contraband is found in the commitment area, which is where the machine is now located.

All newly committed inmates will now be scanned. Prison staff can also scan inmates already held at the facility if they are suspected of hiding contraband.

Inmates will also be scanned every time they leave and reenter the prison.

Stuckey Scan

Lancaster County Commissioner Dennis Stuckey tests the new Soter RS full body scanner at the Lancaster County Prison.

In March, Earle Carrion-Cruz died at the facility after he ingested fentanyl he obtained while working on the facility grounds just outside the prison.

Work release inmates will not automatically be scanned when they enter the facility, but could be if they are suspected of smuggling contraband. 

Warden Cheryl Steberger said policy changes were implemented to ensure this method of smuggling would not occur in the future.

Several other changes have been implemented in recent years to stop drugs from getting inside the facility. Inmate greeting cards were converted to an electronic system in September of 2018, and the prison ended contact visits in August of 2017.

"The community, as we know, is going through an opioid epidemic. We're not immune to that here at the prison," Parsons said. "I think the message to the community is and has been 'don't try to smuggle drugs into the prison,' because you're going to get found, you're going to get caught and you're going to get prosecuted."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article contained incorrect information about when inmates would be scanned.