Drones would be banned from flying within 500 feet of S.C. prisons and jails under a proposal approved Thursday by a state Senate panel.
"Drones are a problem," state Department of Corrections director Bryan Stirling told the panel, listing drone incidents at Evans, Lieber and Broad River correctional institutions.
The proposal would make it a misdemeanor to fly a drone within 500 feet around or 250 feet above an S.C. prison or jail without written consent from the state prisons director.
"It’s government’s responsibility to balance freedom, security and privacy," said state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, who sponsored the proposal. "Part of that responsibility means we keep up with emerging technologies that can affect that balance."
A ban would help prison officers keep out contraband, including drugs and cell phones, Sheheen said.
State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, who chairs the subcommittee agreed, saying drones are accessible and inexpensive. “Anybody can own a drone.”
The S.C. Sheriff’s Association pushed to include jails in the proposal, which the panel approved.
The bill now goes to the full Senate Corrections and Penology Committee for consideration.