Proposed Law Addresses Drones and Prison Areas

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Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois criminal justice statutes,Inmates and their accomplices on the outside have often utilized crafty methods to smuggle contraband. Now, as drones grow in popularity and number across the country, some creative inmates have begun using the unmanned aircraft to deliver banned items like drugs, weapons, and cellphones to prison yards. While Illinois itself has yet to have an incident like this occur, other surrounding states have had recent, problematic incidents with drones, and one Illinois lawmaker has proposed a new measure in hopes of keeping drones away from prisons within the state.

New Technology, New Problems

Prisons across the country are worried about the use of drones as incidents of inmates receiving banned substances dropped in prison yards by drones have increased over the past year. A few months ago in Mansfield, Ohio, a drone delivered a package containing marijuana, tobacco, and heroin to a prison yard, which sparked a violent brawl between the inmates. In Maryland, two men were recently arrested for plans to use a drone to deliver pornography, a cellphone, and illegal drugs to a prison. Last October, officials at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary discovered a drone that had crashed on prison grounds carrying a cellphone, heroin, and hacksaw blades.

In addition to delivering contraband substances that could cause major problems for prisons across the country, lawmakers are also concerned that drones could be used to help inmates plan their escape. In Illinois, there is no formal penalty for using a drone near a prison, and while no incident has yet to occur in the state, lawmakers are hoping to pass a new measure to deter drone use near prisons in the future.

In response to a request from officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections, a Republican senator has recently filed a prison drone ban measure. The preventative measure states that inmates caught using a drone to bring contraband on prison property would have an additional year of prison time added to their sentence. Additionally, any person who flies a drone over a prison, knowingly, will be charged with a misdemeanor. “You should not have the ability to fly over a prison whether you are dropping off contraband or not,” said the Senator, whose hometown of Dixon is also home to a medium security prison.

Illinois lawmakers already dealing with drone-related challenges passed tighter regulations recently. Last November, the Chicago city council passed an ordinance that prohibits drone users from flying the unmanned aircraft over people, personal property, and in any airspace within five miles of an airport. More regulation is likely to come, as a task force was recently appointed by the governor to recommend how to limit drone use within the state.

Tennessee is currently the only state that has a law in place specifically related to drones and prisons. Other states have tried solving the problem without additional legislation. A South Carolina prison that recently discovered an attempt to use a drone to smuggle contraband has since installed new surveillance equipment. In Ohio, officials considered using technology that would potentially block the signal needed to control drones, but were worried that the technology could impact cell phone reception in prison and in surrounding neighborhoods.

Accused of a Crime?

If you have been accused of acting as an accomplice for an inmate, or any other crime, contact a qualified Chicago criminal defense attorney. At The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, our skilled team will work vigorously to build a solid defense for you. Contact us 24/7 at 312-629-0669 to schedule your free consultation with an attorney immediately to review your options.





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