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Contraband Detection Technologies: A Market Survey

NCJ Number
Corrections Today
Date Published
January 2019
4 pages
Publication Series

This report reviews technologies that correctional institutions can use to detect inmate contraband, which is a term for any item that poses some type of threat to institutional security, public health generally, or inmate health and welfare.


Although each correctional agency may define contraband differently, there are four universal constants; i.e., contraband can enter an institution through a variety of pathways, is often difficult to detect, fuels the black-market economy within the institution, and ultimately undermines the safety and security of the institution. Agencies are increasingly relying on technology to facilitate contraband interdiction. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded a Market Survey on Contraband Detection Technologies. Prepared by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory - which operates the National Criminal Justice Technology Research, Test, and Evaluation Center - this report presents information on 103 contraband-detection products offered by 33 commercial vendors. This report focuses on technologies that can detect contraband cellphones and drugs, which are particularly challenging and increasing threats. In the market survey, data were provided by vendors who responded to a request for information or were derived from searches of vendor websites. Data on just over 100 different products were compiled and organized in the following three major categories: person-borne detection, vehicle-borne detection, and environmental detection. Person-borne technologies are used to find contraband concealed on a person and consist mainly of handheld and walk-through devices. Vehicle-borne detection targets contraband concealed in cars and trucks that come onto the grounds of a correctional facility. Environmental-detection technologies detect contraband hidden in mail, parcels, walls, and furniture. A table shows the types of data collected for each of these three categories of technology. 1 table, 1 figure, and 8 notes

Date Published: January 1, 2019