Sneaking contraband into Mahoning County Jail getting more difficult

People caught with drugs or paraphernalia on them when being booked into the jail in Youngstown face additional criminal charges

Body scanner images from Mahoning County Jail


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning County Jail has been using its new body scanner for only two months but Sheriff Jerry Greene said it’s working.

The scanners have already kept a lot of things out of the jail.

“We’ve found crack pipes, we have found hypodermic needles, we have found spoons, we have found bags of heroin,” Greene said.

Most of that contraband is tucked into places police can’t legally search without a warrant.

“About 90 percent of the time, they are found either in the groin area, or in the underwear, or in a cavity,” Greene said

It happened again this week. On Tuesday afternoon, Youngstown police brought Heather Nelson to the jail on drug charges. Deputies discovered she’d hidden a bag of heroin inside her body.

It’s a place police have learned they have to search.

“Nineteen pills in the sanitary napkin, yep. So as long as you have clothing or openings on the body, so to speak, they’re going to try and figure out ways to get them in our jail,” Greene said.

Spotting contraband can be tricky. Greene said the deputies can be trained quickly on how to operate the scanners but there’s a fine art to looking at some of the pictures and finding drugs.

“It’s really just identifying the difference of a foreign object on a person’s body versus an organ, a piece of clothing, tissue.”

He said he knows people are still trying to sneak things around the scanners.

“As our deputies get more and more practice when it comes to using the machine, they’re going to be much more effective but this really just gives everybody a good idea of the kind of crap that’s coming in this jail.”

People caught with drugs or paraphernalia on them face additional criminal charges on top of whatever brought them to the jail in the first place.

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