Fla. bill bans drones near prisons, lowers CO age eligibility
The bill would ban the use of drones to help stop contraband issues and lower the age eligibility for COs
By Corrections1 Staff
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bill aimed at helping state corrections facilities address problems with drones and staff shortages advanced in the Florida House last week.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the bill would ban the use of drones over and near private and state correctional facilities as well as juvenile centers.
“Obviously, I support this legislation --- drones and prisons don’t mix,” Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch said. “Not only is there the risk of contraband, but even the use of drones to surveil the prisons, look at our security procedure and look at inmates in our facilities … is a risk to our facilities.”
The bill would also lower the minimum age to be a corrections officer from 19 to 18.
Inch believes the age eligibility would help fill the nearly 2,000 vacancies the Florida DOC had at the end of last year.
“Properly staffed correctional institutions help strengthen public safety across the state, and this legislation directly assists the department by increasing the number of eligible candidates for hire,” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said.
The majority of wardens say the staffing shortages are caused by low salaries, poor working conditions and high demand for overtime staff. Last month, they urged members of the Senate Criminal and Civil Appropriations Subcommittee to fund the department and deal with the ongoing problems.
The bill may be a criminal-justice priority since it emerged as a committee bill rather than a regular billed filed by a House member, but it’s not clear when the measure will be heard next.