J-Nae Kettoman doesn’t care if she looks strange, scrubbing in like a surgeon with Dial soap brought from home, then snapping on latex gloves before lining up to enter the visiting room at the State Correctional Institution Phoenix.
It’s just part of the regimen that Kettoman, a Dauphin County resident who works for the Commonwealth as a clerk typist, has devised to avoid setting off the prison’s ion mobility spectrometer a device that analyzes swabs of every visitor’s hands and pockets to detect trace levels of narcotics.
“We just were thinking: How can we get around touching anything else once we’ve washed our hands?” Kettoman, whose husband is serving 10 to 20 years, said of the ritual she and a friend developed after her second alarm earlier this year. A third strike would lead to a six-month suspension of her visiting privileges. “It’s just nerve-racking.”
Visitors complain the extremely sensitive machines are prone to false positives — either from incidental contamination (studies have found cocaine traces on up to 90 percent of U.S. currency) or from other substances that may trigger positive readings.