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Correctional Facility Detects More Illicit Drugs While Reducing Mail Screening Time

Correctional facilities, prisons, and jails are combatting a constant stream of contraband, including illegal drugs from the postal mail. Wardens and sheriffs need a way to detect dangerous substances like treated papers, suboxone strips and small quantities of powders and liquids.  The increased need to screen mail is straining resources, exposing officers to harmful substances and contributing to inmate violence, overdose and death.


Law Enforcement


Major State Department of Corrections


Detecting Illicit Drugs Smuggled in Mail and Parcels


There are two broad categories of mail streams into corrections facilities– personal and legal mail. While the screening process is similar, each has distinct challenges.

The screening of personal mail is involved as every piece must be inspected, including examining all pages in a newspaper or magazine for hidden contraband. Putting each piece of mail through an X-ray scanner is not practical, which also does not detect drugs in small quantities, especially treated papers, powders, and liquids.

Unlike personal mail, the screening of legal mail, from an attorney or court, is a multi-step process, as the mail cannot be opened without cause and requires the inmate to be present. The entire process was labor-intensive, time-consuming, and generally ineffective.

This facility also used technology screening tools, including an X-ray scanner and additional chemical detection devices. While effective at detecting potential weapons, the X-ray could not detect the small amounts of drugs and related contraband, especially suboxone strips, K2 and similarly treated papers, and powder or liquid drugs hidden in envelopes or taped to pages in a book or file.


Following extensive onsite benchmarking, with actual samples and mail items from the facility’s evidence locker, the facility deployed MailSecur scanners and the EODSecur support service in their central mail processing facility.

The corrections staff quickly became proficient in detecting previously missed drugs and contraband without opening the mail. In cases where screeners needed an expert second opinion, the EODSecur support service provided real-time access to former military threat experts who could remotely connect to the scanner onsite and support local screeners.

Compared to their existing screening process, the screening staff was very pleased with the system’s ease of use, flexibility, and detection capabilities. In quick order, they improved the efficiency and effectiveness of their legal mail screening operation, reducing screening time by 80% while significantly decreasing the need for inmate interaction in the process.

This team of military-trained EOD specialists is available 24×365 to assist mail operators in diagnosing any suspicious scans. The unit’s image scans and videos are remotely accessible by the EODSecure team, which allows them to quickly identify and provide guidance on mitigation steps and support additional training remotely.


After deploying MailSecur scanners, time devoted to mail screening decreased by over 80%, primarily due to the reduced need to move inmates daily from their cells to the screening room and the ability to very quickly weed out legitimate threats from potential false positives – a fundamental problem with the previous approaches the facility was using. Staff who previously devoted a significant amount of time to mail screening could now be re-assigned to other activities, helping to ease the facility’s strain on staffing.

The MailSecur solution eased several critical challenges this prison was facing. In a short period of time, they have improved their drug detection capabilities, reduced the amount of contraband introduced to the general population, and limited the need for inmate movement.

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