In 2018, Clay Nix, the director of the Georgia Department of Corrections Office of Professional Standards, indicated that drone sightings at Georgia prisons were at an all-time high. It appears that the number of drone sightings near Georgia prisons are continuing to climb.
The Georgia Department of Corrections reported 300 drone sightings near two GA state prisons in 2018. The two state prisons were taking part in drone detection system trials. Almost 200 of drones were spotted near Autry State Prison.
The drone detection trials at Autry State Prison and Calhoun State Prison have now ended. The state will have to decide if they want to make those, or similar systems, permanent and install them at all state correctional facilities.
According to prison officials, they only recovered seven of the 300 drones. Officials were able to use fingerprints found on a seized drone to make an arrest. Officials also noted that most drones get away before authorities can send units outside the prison gates.
New Georgia drone law to combat drone smuggling problems
On April 28, 2019, Georgia Governor Kemp signed SB6 which prohibits the use of UAS to deliver or attempt to deliver contraband to a place of incarceration. Any person who commits or attempts to commit a violation will face a felony charge and jail time. The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Many states have adopted laws like Georgia's new drone law, that make it a crime to fly a drone near a prison or use a drone to deliver contraband to prisons. These laws won't stop criminals from using drones to deliver contraband. However, the legislation will help law enforcement officers do their jobs and punish offenders.