A bill that would ban drones from flying near the state’s prison and jails continues to advance in the Legislature, after receiving approval by a second Senate panel on Thursday.
The proposal has received resounding support from legislators, who say it’s a must to keep the state’s prisons safe. Bryan Stirling, director of the Department of Corrections, has previously said that drones have been used to drop off contraband over the state’s tall prison fences.
“We need to protect our state employees and prison guards,” said Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington. “They are the ones who are being injured when there’s contraband behind the fence.”
Sen. Rex Rice, R-Pickens, said he plans to introduce an amendment once the bill hits the floor of the Senate that would give permission to utility companies to fly the drones near prisons and jails, as long as they notify the facility of their intent. Rice said phone companies use drones to monitor cell phone towers.
In its current state, the proposal would make it a misdemeanor to fly a drone within 500 feet around or 250 above a state prison or jail without the consent of the facility’s director. The bill now heads for the Senate floor for consideration.