Nixed TSA Scanners That Were Invasive and a Potential Health Hazard Are Now Being Used in Prisons

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 20 2014 6:42 PM

Nixed TSA Scanners That Were Invasive and a Potential Health Hazard Are Now Being Used in Prisons

tsa
TSA security lab director Susan Hallowell imaged with a Rapiscan backscatter x-ray.

Scan from Wikimedia Commons.

Last year Congress mandated the removal of OSI Rapiscan full body scanners from the Transportation Security Administration screening at airports because the company couldn't meet privacy standards. The images coming from the scanners weren't generic enough and depicted naked bodies too accurately. As a result, about 250 scanners, worth roughly $40 million, were removed. But they're not gone.

Local and state prisons have started using the scanners, according to the Federal Times, and 154 units are now in use in states like Iowa, Louisiana, and Virginia. Additionally, five scanners are being used in Arkansas sheriff's offices. Ninety-six scanners have not found homes yet.

Advertisement

There are different privacy standards for prisoners than there are for average citizens, so Congress's concerns don't apply in jails. It's not clear whether the scanners could be used on prison staff or visitors. TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein told the Federal Times that, “TSA and the vendor are working with other government agencies interested in receiving the units for their security mission needs and for use in a different environment.”

Health safety concerns raised during congressional hearings about the radiation emitted by the scanners haven't been resolved. But rumors that TSA agents were mocking everyone's naked bodies turned out to be very, very true.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 12:43 PM Occupy Wall Street How can Hillary Clinton be both a limousine liberal and a Saul Alinsky radical?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 1:04 PM Which States Should Secede From the Union?
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon Who Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.