CHICAGO - MARCH 15: A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) volunteer demonstrates a full-body scanner at O'Hare International Airport on March 15, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Backscatter Advanced Imaging Technology scanners are being transferred to state and local prisons. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
The controversial airport screening machines that angered privacy advocates and members of Congress for their revealing images are finding new homes in state and local prisons across the country, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
So far, 154 of the machines have been transferred to prisons in states including Iowa, Virginia and Louisiana. It’s a good fit because privacy concerns raised by airport passengers do not apply in many cases to prisoners, according to TSA.
Arkansas received five of the scanners in early May for use by local sheriffs as well, according to TSA. The remaining 96 scanners are still being stored in the warehouses of scanner manufacturer Rapiscan.
TSA will continue working to transfer the remaining machines, according to the agency.
“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,” TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said.
TSA owned about 250 of the screening machines at its peak — valued at about $40 million — before removing them from airports in the first half of 2013 in response to pressure over the virtually nude images it created of passengers.
Members of Congress had also raised issues about the safety of the machines and their scanning technology, asking the National Academy of Sciences to explore whether people are exposed to unsafe levels of radiation during the process.