South Carolina to Use Drones as Remotely Operated Surveillance in Prisons

It hasn’t been that long since the first drone was presented to the world and we already have state officials introducing clearance to fly drones above prisons in an effort to keep a watchful eye out on the inmates. Current surveillance technology and placement sometimes cause a problem since you cannot keep an eye out for everything. There are camera blind sports and certain contraband items that can be smuggled into the prison due to all this.

South Carolina Drones

The state is looking to eliminate the possibility of outsiders throwing phones and drugs over the walls by using drones. These drones will be piloted by two military veterans who will travel between the state’s 21 prisons and look down from 400 feet above using video screens and remote control. This also doesn’t expose the,m to harm since they’ll be safe and well away from all the action down below. They would go further than 400 feet, but the FAA has set that as the maximum height and there’s no workaround the regulations at the moment.


Why use drones for prison surveillance?

Well, inmates and their connections outside are creative and smart; they don’t use just walls or fences to give inmates stuff. You know, the good old – throw it over here method of smuggling. There have been cases where outsiders (in this case, inmate contacts from the outside of prison) flew drones above it to smuggle goods. Unfortunately, they aren’t dropping gifts in the form of a teddy bear; they’re dropping knives, phones, and even drugs. As a matter of fact, there was an incident last summer when a prisoner managed to escape a maximum-security facility after cutting through several fences with a wire cutter… that was most likely delivered to him with a drone.

Up until now, there was no way to fight these people except finding out who was operating the drones in the first place and bring him/her to justice. Fortunately, South Carolina managed to lobby for approval of their new surveillance concept – the drone. Yes, they decided to combat drones with… drones. And it’s a damn good decision if I may add!


High Tech Drones are going mainstream

You would expect nothing less than the most sophisticated drones to be used in this scenario. They’ll be fitted with heat-sensors and night-vision, things that you wouldn’t normally find on a drone. On top of that, of course, they will have normal cameras as well as a bunch of onboard sensors to keep them from experiencing any potential difficulties while flying. But how will this system work out in practice? Well…

As soon as the drone pilot notices suspicious activity, he’ll alert the officers and guards in the prison to investigate. The great part is that inmates have no way of knowing if someone is taking an interest in them from above; the drones are small, agile, and 400 feet in the air – noticing one is incredibly difficult.

South Carolina has taken the first step in using drones for a special purpose; one that definitely has potential thus we’re expecting to see it spread out to other states relatively quickly.

Anthony Turner