The Ontario government is claiming success following a body scanner pilot project at a Toronto jail, and will be installing the devices at all adult correctional facilities.
The Toronto South Detention Centre played host to a six-month pilot project aimed at determining whether full-body security scanning systems–similar to the devices used in airport screening–could reduce the influx of contraband weapons and drugs into jails. A government statement said that the result of the project was a “clear reduction in contraband” and related incidents, leading to an increase in overall safety.
The first 11 scanners will be installed by next March. Over the next 10 years, $9.5 million has been earmarked for purchase and maintenance on the scanners, which will be rolled out to the 26 jails over the next two years. It’s unclear when London’s Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, which has been plagued by controversy surrounding overcrowding and other safety issues in recent years, will receive its first scanner.
“Moving forward with the installation of full-body scanners in all of Ontario’s adult correctional facilities will further improve staff and inmate safety, reduce contraband, and build safer communities for everyone,” said Yasir Naqvi, the province’s minister of community safety and correctional services. “I am proud to have worked closely with our correctional officers on this important safety improvement and look forward to continuing to transform Ontario’s correctional system by increasing access to rehabilitation programs, enhancing mental health supports, and improving community-based reintegration partnerships.”
Body scanners detect “external and internal” contraband that eludes existing security measures, according to Naqvi.
Ontario will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to install the scanners en masse.