MERCER – The Mercer County Jail used a new device last week to prevent contraband material from reaching the facility’s general population.

Warden Erna Craig told the Mercer County Prison Board Tuesday that the body imaging scanner detected something inside the inmate’s body.

Craig said the scanner was used Thursday with inmates from a general population unit after being notified something would be smuggled iny.

“We did a complete shakedown,” she said Tuesday during the prison board meeting.

Craig said there was a hit, with a male inmate having something internally in his groin area.

Deputy Warden Mac McDuffie, who oversees security, said the prisoner was isolated.

“The inmate was re-stripped,” he said.

When the inmate was scanned two and a half hours later, the substance was no longer present in his body.

Craig said the inmate presumably expelled it in the interim. She stressed the main thing was the contraband was not in the jail.

“We got rid of it,” she said.

Craig said the scanner is now incorporated into standard procedure.

“We’re doing everybody coming in and going out,” she said.

Craig said work release inmates, in particular, are monitored.

“That’s the big way of getting drugs into the jail,” she said.

The dual-view scanner, which was purchased from ADANI Systems Inc. of Conroe, Texas, for $155,250, was installed in February. The machine is designed to detect metal, narcotics, powders, ceramics, explosives and plastic.

County Controller Thomas Amundsen, prison board president, said the scanner uses a low-level X-ray.

“Any time we can keep contraband out of the facility is a good thing,” Amundsen said.

He said the scanner is probably the least invasive way to accomplish that task.