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Lawmakers call for new legislation restricting drones near prisons

Flickr User Peter Linehan

The first Michiganders to be arrested for smuggling contraband into a prison via drone were arraigned this week.  Now some lawmakers want tougher laws when it comes to flying drones near prisons.

Michigan lawmakers have been trying for years to get a law on the books about drones and prisons. The latest version has been waiting for a committee hearing since February. It would prohibit flying a drone within 1-thousand feet of a jail, prison or other law enforcement building.

Democratic Representative John Chirkun is a bill sponsor. He says the law needs to keep up with technology.

“Drones are like thinking outside the box. We’ve never had this, so we gotta shape and make laws to take care of these things.”

He says the problem is more than outsiders dropping packages behind prison walls.

“You don’t know when these drones are flying – they might be looking for escape routes if they’re flying over a jail. You know looking for, you know looking for you know sheet metal tunnels or you know air conditioning tunnels that people could go through.”

The bills would make it a misdemeanor to fly a drone within 1-thousand feet of a prison or jail.

The Michigan Department of Corrections says it’ll work with lawmakers on the issue. Chris Gautz is with the department.

“This is a serious issue and we’re looking to have a serious discussion about this with the legislature. And to their credit the legislature’s been very engaged.”

Gautz says the prison has strict training and drills for officers to spot drones and apprehend the flyers.