Jail commission discusses body scanner purchase


By Nick Walton - nwalton@civitasmedia.com



MECHANICSBURG – The Tri-County Corrections Commission discussed looking into potentially purchasing a body scanner during their meeting on Thursday.

During the Aug. 27 meeting, the commission discussed potential projects that could be done to utilize funds in the work release account. As of the end of September, jail executive director Scott Springhetti said the balance in that fund was $168,321.75.

Based on the conversation from the previous meeting, Springhetti said he reached out to the Hamilton County Jail to gain more information about purchasing a body scanner. He said Hamilton County was the first county in the state to use a body scanner.

“(Assistant Jail Director) Drew (Hildebrand) and I went down there this past Monday and spent half the day down there at their jail and looked at the body scanner, how it works, saw the layout of it,” Springhetti said. “We were really intrigued by it. It’s really amazing what it picks up and how you can see things.”

Springhetti said there are different kinds of body scanners. For example, Hancock County has a body scanner that cost less but only scans externally while Springhetti said Hamilton County’s scanner can potentially pick up contraband someone has ingested or placed in a body cavity.

“I would say 90 percent of the contraband that makes it way into the jail is something we’re never going to find with a visual inspection of a person,” Springhetti said.

Springhetti said the Hamilton County scanner is around $190,000.

No action was taken towards a purchase as the commission spoke about financing and other procedures the jail would go through if they acquire a body scanner. Springhetti said the jail is scheduled to meet with the company Hamilton County went through this month to give the company a tour of the jail.

The commission was also updated on other jail related projects during the meeting.

Springhetti said the jail’s roofing project is almost complete and the company working on the project expects to be done by the end of the week.

The commission was also updated about a new phone project. Springhetti said the jail is re-doing quotes and specs from a previous attempt at this project and hopes to have an idea of costs soon. The board approved Springhetti to take action on the project and report back to them during the next meeting.

Jail population

As of Thursday morning, Champaign County accounted for 53 of the 178 total inmates in the jail while Madison County has 56 total inmates and Union County had 69 total inmates. There was a total of 139 males and 39 females in the jail as of Thursday morning.

Speaking on the population, Springhetti said the jail observed an increase during the middle to later parts of October. He said the jail’s inmate count had already decreased by nine on Thursday and the jail was anticipating more releases from Champaign County.

Springhetti said Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio contacted the jail and said he was reviewing his caseload to help decrease the county’s inmate count. Champaign County had 11 people on electronic monitoring.

Through Thursday, the jail’s average jail population was 149 total with 116 males and 33 females. Springhetti said this average was still below previous years. He said the average in 2012 was 170 total inmates while 2014’s average was 163 total inmates.

Springhetti said the jail has seen an increase in medical and mental health inmate caseload because the population is up and the type of inmates the jail is housing.

By Nick Walton

nwalton@civitasmedia.com

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.