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

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 2 2014 6:00 AM Can’t Stomach It I was shamed for getting gastric bypass surgery. Should I keep the procedure a secret?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?