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New Body Scanner at Women’s Facility

October 16, 2019

By Alexandra Barton

DOC Communications

(Alexandra Barton, DOC Communications)

In February 2019, Washington Corrections Center for Women installed a body scanner in the facility’s visitation room. Operations for the new scanner began in April.

Corrections specialist Jennifer Grabil says that preventing dangerous contraband from entering the prison is vital to the facility’s security. In the few months the scanner has been operational, staff have seized about one hundred strips of suboxone, thirteen grams of heroin, and seventeen grams of meth from inmates.

“I think it’s keeping not only the incarcerated individuals safe, but also keeping staff safe,” Grabil said.

Superintendent Deborah Wofford says the machine & process is creating a more secure facility, and also providing a more gender-responsive and trauma-informed way to increase safety. Many incarcerated women have experienced some form of trauma in their lives prior to serving under the department’s jurisdiction. The legislature has supported Corrections in creating systems of trauma-informed practices.

“For one thing, we wanted something that was more effective than a strip search, and for another thing we wanted to reduce the level of trauma that women who are just trying to do their time and don’t participate in these things (smuggling contraband), suffer due to strip searches,” Wofford said.

Implementation of the body scanner helps the department in its mission to improve public safety by maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for staff and incarcerated individuals. Acknowledging the importance of trauma-informed procedures can lead incarcerated women to a smoother reentry into the community and reduce recidivism.

“They need to be emotionally and mentally prepared to go out and find a different way (of life),” Wofford said.