Marks You Cannot Erase: Exploring the Impacts of False Positive Ion Scanner Hits on Families of Canadian Prisoners

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MacKenzie, Kaitlin




This study explores the experiences of individuals who visit their loved ones in Canadian federal prisons, with a focus on the impacts of the ion scanner, a drug-detection technology used to scan visitors to prisons for drugs. This machine produces frequent false positives, negatively impacting the lives of prisoners and their families in various ways. I conducted eight open-focused interviews with individuals who have experienced false positive indications on the ion scanner upon visiting their incarcerated loved ones. I argue that the ion scanner is a risk technology used to further stigmatize and punish the families of prisoners. While the scanner is presented as objective, the way it is used is shaped by hidden moral judgments about the individuals visiting their loved ones. This research contributes to the literature on the collateral consequences of incarceration, and adds to literature on the impacts of risk and surveillance technologies in carceral settings.


Criminology and Penology




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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