Drones Are Dropping Porn, Drugs & Phones Into Prisons

There have been multiple incidents of people using drones to drop contraband porn, cell phones, and drugs into prisons, which sounds great and kind of funny on its face – until you realize how dangerous this is for the prisoners. In one such incident, for example, a drone contraband drop caused a yard fight between 100 inmates at Mansfield Correctional Institution.

Contraband is valuable in prison – cell phones can be worth upwards of $1,000. And I’d be inclined to say that contraband is contraband for a reason, but that’d be a pretty moralizing way to put it. Besides, contraband fuels prison barter economies – when cigarettes were banned from prisons nationwide, for example, prison gangs started shifting their focus from selling drugs to selling cigarettes. Making cigarettes contraband, in other words, just entrenched some of the biggest problems with the American prison system.

There’s furthermore the issue of drug treatment in prisons – the vast majority of inmates are in on drug offenses, but our drug treatment programs in prisons have waitlists of thousands of inmates. It takes months just to get basic drug education, much less treatment, which means that plenty of inmates are detoxing and going through withdrawal without proper medical oversight. No wonder that contraband is so valuable.

Which means that attempts to get contraband in are becoming more high tech. Drones offer anonymity that, say, a potato launcher doesn’t. Prisons and jails are looking for ways to keep drones and the contraband they carry out, which will be costly. Since contraband always seems to find a way in no matter what prisons do, perhaps the money could be spent better elsewhere.

 

[Daily Beast (1), (2)]

[Bureau of Prisons]

[USA Today]

[National Institutes of Health]

[WISTV]

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