Prison sucks. In other news, snow is cold, the sun is hot and Scarlett Johansson is a smoke show. But seriously, prison is a constant struggle against monotony (and other way worse things) which is why inmates have to find ways to keep busy. Unfortunately, inmates these days are getting smarter and more tech savvy in that particular pursuit.
According to a recent Department of Justice (DOJ) report, more and more inmates are utilizing drones to smuggle drugs, porn, cell phones, weapons and other contraband into jails across the country. The report, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that more than a dozen attempts to move all types of stuff on the no-no list into federal prisons over the last five years, USA Today reports.
Experts weighed in on the report saying that current anti-drone technologies fail to protect jails against drone drop offs of harmful materials, including firearms. Obviously, smuggling contraband into prison is illegal (shout out to HBO’s The Night Of). The problem here is that there is no law that prevents drones from flying near correctional facilities.
“Civilian drones are becoming more inexpensive, easy to operate and powerful. A growing number of criminals seem to be recognizing their potential value as tools for bad deeds,” Troy Rule, a drone legislation advocate and Arizona State University law professor, told USA Today.
Per the DOJ’s report, an inmate at the high-security federal prison in Victorville, California, managed to sneak two cell phones into jail in March 2015 via a drone. Jail officials didn’t realize until five months after the drop.
In 2014, a drone crashed while attempting to deliver marijuana to a prison in South Carolina. In 2015, a drone delivering drugs sparked a brawl in an Ohio facility. An inmate and two accomplices were convicted of smuggling drugs and porn into Maryland’s Western Correctional Institution via drone in 2016. Prison drone drops are on the rise thus far through 2017.
Jail management consultant Donald Leach is an advocate for anti-drone jammers which disable the signal on drones and hack into their operating system. Leach, who has 25 years experience as a jail administrator, believes drones pose a significant threat to the current system.
“Traditionally some inmates would bribe the staff or visitors to bring drugs and other small items into jail illegally by hiding them in body cavities … but drones have opened up the possibility of transporting much bigger and much more lethal items like guns into the facilities,” Leach said.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has requested technology that could be used to stop drones near facilities. A pending Senate bill called the Drone Federalism Act would also encourage local legislation if passed.