Last month, we reported that South Carolina lawmakers are seeking to ban drones near prisons and military bases. A House subcommittee voted unanimously last week for legislation to make flying drones within a certain distance of the facilities a misdemeanor which could cost up to $500 or 30 days in jail.
Camden Sen. Vincent Sheheen says the legislation is timely after the Lee Correctional Institution riot that left seven dead and 22 injured. Officials say that fight was started over gang territories and contraband. This was the deadliest U.S. prison riot in 25 years. Forty-four guards were on duty overseeing 1,583 inmates at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina when the violence broke out, and it took eight hours to put an end to the riot early on Monday.
“We’re grossly understaffed at many facilities across the United States,” said Brian Dawe, executive director of the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, a clearinghouse for best practices and information for corrections officers.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said contraband cellphones had a "big impact" on Sunday's violence that quickly spread to three unconnected dormitories at the prison.
South Carolina prisons, like many prisons across the nation, have been experiencing problems with contraband. Earlier this year, South Carolina prisons put up nets to help stop contraband from breaching prison fences. Nets will help stop people from throwing contraband over the fence but offers little to prevent drones from flying in and dropping contraband. South Carolina Gov. McMaster signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the South Carolina prisons due to this contraband and sought partnership with South Carolina State Guard to help patrol prison perimeters and prevent contraband from entering prisons.