When the New York State Department of Correctional Services decided to purchase new state-of-the-art security scanning chairs to reduce weapons possession by inmates, the prevailing notion was that the chair cost would be a worthy investment. It certainly has proven that way, considering the pronounced decline in weapons and assault incidents since the chairs made their debut.
The high-technology BOSS (Body Orifice Security Scanner) chair enables staff to more easily detect weapons and other contraband metal items that often are hidden by inmates in body cavities. "These chairs have proven to be an effective security enhancement that has led to a safer system for staff and inmates," said Commissioner Goord. "And when one looks at the numbers, it is clear that inmates have gotten the message: if you are in possession of a weapon, there is a much better chance of you getting caught and being disciplined than there was before."
Since the installation of the chairs, the average of 1649 cutting/stabbing incident reports a year in the previous three years has dropped to 688 - a reduction of 58%. As far as inmates assaulting staff with weapons, or being in possession of a weapon when assaulting staff, there was an average of 19 incidents, which has decreased to an average of 12 such incidents a year.
The statistics are even more compelling when it comes to inmates using weapons to assault other inmates. There was an average of 529 incidents, a reduction of 57%.
The Department currently has 80 chairs at prisons across the state, including the maximum-security S-blocks located on the grounds of nine medium-security prisons. The chair's features are simple but highly effective. It includes a flat metal detector that is affixed to the seat. When inmates are suspected of hiding a weapon on their person, they are ordered by staff to sit in the chair The magnometer then scans the inmate's body cavities in a non-intrusive manner, and an alarm will sound if any metal is detected.
The BOSS chairs supplement handheld metal detectors, which Correction Officers use to detect weapons. Besides being highly effective, the chair in many cases also eliminates the need for staff to conduct strip frisks and manual body cavity searches, reducing the opportunity for inmate assaults on staff as well as inmate lawsuits. Since the Department has been using the BOSS chairs, dozens of inmates have been convicted in the courts of criminal charges of promoting prison contraband as a result of weapons detected by the chair's magnometer. That has led to increased prison terms for violators. Inmates have also been subjected to disciplinary sanctions. "Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, these chairs help us detect and remove weapons and other contraband from the system," said Commissioner Goord. "Fewer weapons in our prisons mean less of a chance of assaults on staff and inmates.
"I will not tolerate any assault on staff or others by any inmate at any time," continued Commissioner Goord. "Our staff is ever-diligent in searching for weapons and other contraband which jeopardises everyone's safety. These chairs have given our employees another effective tool in that ongoing mission."
The Big Boss incorporates four scanners for feet, back, body cavities and mouth. Ranger Security Detectors, which include the BOSS as well as the unique Ranger Walkthrough Detectors, which display the exact location of hidden weapons on the built-in display, are distributed by Emergency Reaction Services.
For more information contact Morris Maram, Emergency Reaction Services, 011 234 6000, www.emergencyreaction.com
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