Preventing contraband from being delivered by drones into Del. prisons

SMYRNA, Del. -The Delaware Department of Corrections is stepping up their effort to make sure nothing enters their prisons that’s not supposed to. The state already has ways to detect if people are trying to smuggle items in but now they’re looking how they can prevent things from coming in from the sky.

“We cannot play checkers while inmates are playing chess. This new law is our check mate,” says Claire DeMatteis, the Commissioner for the Delaware Department of Correction.

Delaware Department of Corrections officials say they’re preparing for anything that comes their way. Nowadays, that includes drones.

“Drones do present a genuine threat to the safety and security of our State’s prisons,” says Dana Metzger, the warden for James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC).

On Thursday, Governor John Carney signed House Bill 30 behind the walls of James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. It’s now a class F Felony if someone delivers, or tries to deliver, contraband into a Delaware prison by drone. It’s a possibility that officials say they’re already familiar with.

“In July 2017, in my second day as special assistant to commissioner Phelps, an inmate in a state prison in South Carolina escaped using wire cutters that had been dropped from a drone,” says DeMatteis.

State leaders say this directly addresses safety concerns that came to light after Lieutenant Steven Floyd was murdered during a prison hostage situation in 2017.

“We now see that after years of neglect of all state agencies, we saw that corrections had been a bulging point of failure because it’s been neglected,” says Rep. Stephen Smyk, a Republican who represents District 40.

While there’s still work to be done, state corrections officials say things are moving in the right direction.

“We are really finally beginning to see real real progress and real change from all the hard work that’s been done over the last two years,” says Geoff Klopp, the president of COAD.

If someone is found guilty of a class F felony in Delaware, they could face up to 3 years behind bars. Meanwhile, officials say they’re still working on ways to improve pay and benefits to recruit corrections officers in Delaware.

Categories: Crime, Delaware, Local News