Texas bans drones flying near prisons

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a plot from an action movie turned real life: a drone flies over a prison and delivers wire cutters and a cellphone to an inmate looking to break out. South Carolina authorities say that’s how Jimmy Causey might have gotten his hands on tools that helped him break out of a maximum-security prison. That’s when he began his three days on the lam before he was ultimately captured in Cedar Park, Texas Friday morning.

Drones have long been concerns for corrections officers; Texas lawmakers took notice of the quadcopters growing popularity and shrinking price tags sought to ban drone use around correctional facilities.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office enlisted the help of the legislature getting a drone ban passed as it worked to stay ahead of the threat drones pose to corrections facilities. The language was ultimately adopted as part of House Bill 1424 which expanded drone restrictions to include large stadiums. The bill ultimately became law, making it a Class B misdemeanor to fly a drone over correctional facilities and stadiums that seat 30,000 or more people.

Both Travis County and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice say drones haven’t been an issue for them thus far.

In 2015 a drone delivered heroin and marijuana to inmates at Ohio’s Mansfield Correctional Institution, the Mansfield News Journal reported.

Some countries have moved to jam or block the radio frequencies used to control drones, essentially creating a force field around the facility.


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