CUAS Featured

The Current State of CUAS in the US: Prisons – Cigarettes are not Guns Part 3 of 7

The prison industry’s operations are not a widely known to the general public, for starters most assume the state or federal government runs the prison, this is true that there are both federal and state-owned prison facilities, but there are also private facilities that outnumber those ran by the government. Private facilities are run by civilians, are for-profit and are protected by prison guards who are hired to watch over inmates providing security.

Some research and reports indicate that most of the contraband is brought in by prison guards which makes for a corrupt system, however, a prison guard who might bring drugs to an inmate would never bring a gun to an inmate. Now we queue the nefarious drone operator who would deliver a gun for money because they have nothing to lose only money to gain.

A guard, on the other hand, might lose their life if an inmate got the gun and fired it at them or a co-worker/friend so they would never bring a gun in for their own safety. This changes the security dynamics when someone outside the system can deliver a deadly weapon to someone on the inside.

This is a whole new level of liability for prison owners and for the families of those who could be killed by another inmate with a gun. On TV shows about prisons and movies, we hear about the dangers of homemade weapons such as shanks made from metal and plastic, but a gun is a new level of scary especially when no guard would be expecting an inmate to have a gun. Contraband is also another problem, but this seems far less likely to be as threatening as a gun. Cigarettes, cell phones, money, porn and drugs are the top contraband items that can be delivered to inmates waiting on the inside to be dropped off in the yard and recovered.

Cell phones to a prisoner can be just as dangerous as bringing a gun to a prison, but to someone on the outside. Inmates call others to commit crimes on their behalf from behind bars setting up the event and receiving messages on contraband cell phones. The protection of the people who are testifying against a prisoner is at stake when the prisoned can find out who they are, where they live, evidence in the media and happens unaware to people who are barred from the outside world.

Inmates have nothing but time to sit around and think of innovative ways to use drones to
deliver the goods on the inside, it won’t be much longer and they will have thought of new ways to use drones for illegal purposes. Some prisons also are uniquely set up to be great test areas for the use of CUAS equipment while we learn by trial and error the effectiveness of CUAS equipment in a civilian setting. Most prisons are located in an area with not much going on around it as not many people do want to live close to a prison so they build them in remote locations also to make escape harder and the perimeter and surrounding area easier to watch.

They have cleared land and obstacles to might restrict the view the guards have from the tops of the wall and towers making an ideal setting to monitor the effectiveness of the equipment meaning how well did the equipment work, was the vehicle brought down safely and what did we learn from the interdiction?

Article on complex drone smuggling operation in the UK, watch the video on the innovative
retrieval system. The authorities knew they were conducting operations and were able to
strategically place cameras to catch the gang. Some states also want to jam cell phones within prisons, read the article here.

Prison makes a great testing area for CUAS because most of their locations are far from
anything else, now there are exceptions. But modern prisons are built away from civilization and have miles of perimeter that protect the buildings and allows them to see anyone coming from miles away. Now we enter a new threat correction officers will need to be trained to be protected from the air and the technology changes many aspects of protection, to start prison walls aren’t effective to an airborne vehicle and they are a primary defense to a prison.

The rates for drone sightings around US prisons are astronomical. From 10 reports a month to 10,000, a month have grown in size and complexity. If anyone needs CUAS it is prisons and especially the facilities that are located in the out of town locations, then they should be one of the first to test out the systems. Through testing and real world research, any failures with equipment and the drone can fall on the ground without concerning many on harming anyone or the surrounding infrastructure.

Prisons could become part of the work force who first tests out CUAS equipment through pilot programs, licensing, training and security updating.

Another big aspect of CUAS for prisons is gaining the intel off the drone through cyber forensics to find the bad guy, owner and pilot. If the drone has been destroyed from a kinetic mitigation technique, then it will be useless to attempt to retrieve intelligence from the drone as numbers can be scratched off. I’m not going to go into the details here on the juicy stuff.

Prisons should join the CUAS Coalition as a group and we can specifically lobby and write regulations to be beneficial for the testing and use of CUAS equipment at prisons. Let us also remember that cigarettes are not guns.

If you are a state or federal corrections department and would like more help in the areas of legality, changing the law, training or equipment consulting please contact us and become a member.

Rob Thompson

Co-Founder | CUAS Coalition
SME for U.S. Department of Homeland Security – CIPAC UAS Security Working Group
Chairman at Countering UAS Summit Washington DC
Email: [email protected]
sUAS News:

Similar Posts