Vermont House members presented bill H.615, which seeks to prohibit people from flying drones near prisons. If passed, violators would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $500.
Vermont Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Mike Touchette said this would help prevent contraband from entering facilities via drone and protect prison security practices from observation by outsiders.
Touchette said that in Vermont, there had been about a dozen drone sightings near the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. However, he said he is unsure of the circumstances around those sightings and added that none had been tied to any contraband found within the facility. Touchette said the Corrections Department proposed the bill to lawmakers to get out ahead of any potential issues.
"Nationally, correctional industries are concerned about security practices, and with the easy accessibility to drones — and relatively inexpensive access to drones — these days, they are being used in nefarious manners across the country," Touchette said.
Currently, ten states prohibit drones from operating near or over prisons. Those states include Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.