New Counter-drone Effort Will Tackle Prison Contraband Bandits

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In the 1994 classic film The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s inmate character, Red, had a reputation as a man “known to locate certain things from time to time.”

But Red limited his contraband ring to tame, comfort items for his incarcerated clientele – booze, “playing cards with nekkid ladies,” and even a rock hammer.

In the real world, prison contraband can include cellphones, drugs and even weapons. Perhaps it’s not surprise drones have occasionally played the role of a more sinister version of Red.

However, companies like Securus Technologies are creating solutions to battle rogue contraband drones. Last week, the Texas-based firm announced a new series of “active pilot programs using drone detection technology to combat the threats in prisons and jails from drone devices.”

Company officials say Securus completed an 18-month evaluation of counter-drone technologies across a wide array of partnerships. The company will deploy a digital antenna structure (DAS) infrastructure like its current Wireless Containment Solution.

“The technology is new and emerging and will continue to get better as trials identify strengths and weaknesses in the current solutions,” a Secures spokesperson said in a press release. “Securus personnel have worked hand-in-hand with a variety of technology partners to identify what is required to engineer, install and implement drone detection pilot programs.”

Last year, a lifer prisoner in South Carolina allegedly used a drone to deliver tools he used in a Fourth of July escape attempt.

In 2016, the Cayman Islands Prison Service launched a drone training program to patrol prison facilities in search of would-be smugglers. Local UAV firm AirVu now provides imagery quadcopters along with intensive training to prison guards in an attempt to quell a common problem in the island’s prison system– drug smuggling.

A drone delivered a packet of drugs to an Ohio prison in 2015 including almost a quarter-ounce of heroin, more than 2 ounces of marijuana and more than 5 ounces of tobacco.

Clearly, the need for prison-patrol drones is growing and companies like Securus are looking to leverage their market presence in the law-enforcement/security sector to provide front-line services.

“Our investigative and systems experience has helped us work with corrections and detection partners to fine tune drone detection systems be more effective, more quickly,” the company stated in a press release.


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