NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Maryland Prisons Use High-Tech Drug Detection System on Visitors and Workers to Prevent Smuggling


November-December 1997

Maryland prisons are turning to high-tech tools to detect traces of illegal drugs on people who visit or work at the prisons (Ivan Penn, "Maryland aims `drug buster' at prisons visitors, workers," Houston Chronicle, October 11, 1997, p. 12A).

The new drug detection system, called the Ionscan 400®, costs $55,000 per unit, and is manufactured by Barringer Instruments Inc. of New Providence, NJ. The system, which looks like a hand-held vacuum, is operated by an officer who scans the skin of an individual. Particles are then captured by a filter, which is placed in a scanner that can determine the presence of as many as 20 drugs. The machine does not report quantity of drugs, but signals whether or not an individual has come into contact with a drug. Officials say the device is more accurate than a drug-sniffing dog. William W. Sondervan, an assistant commissioner for the state Division of Correction, said, "The message we're sending is if you're a bad person and trying to get drugs into our prisons, we're going to catch you."

Dr. William Sondervan, Maryland Division of Correction - (410) 764-4170.

Barringer Instruments, New Providence, NJ - (908) 665-8200.