Governor Signs Bill by Senator Hill to Outlaw Drone Flights Over State Prisons

September 10, 2018

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – September 10, 2018

Governor Signs Bill by Senator Jerry Hill to Outlaw Drone Flights Over State Prisons

SACRAMENTO – Starting in January, it will be illegal to fly a drone over or at a state prison under legislation by Senator Jerry Hill that Governor Brown signed today.

Violating the new law, which also will apply to jails and juvenile facilities, will be an infraction punishable by a $500 fine. The restrictions do not apply to employees of the facilities who operate drones as part of their job and have specific permission to use them.

Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, introduced Senate Bill 1355 earlier this year amid a spate of incidents involving drones that smuggled drugs and other contraband into lockups.

In February, near Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, a drone dropped a bag filled with cellphones, SIM cards, hacksaw blades, 180 grams of heroin and 69 grams of methamphetamine, according to news reports. The following day, staff found three more bags containing drugs, lighters and rolling papers, among other items.

In October 2017, a drone crashed inside the perimeter of Elmwood Correctional Facility in Santa Clara County. Investigators found a package of methamphetamine on board.

The same year, drones carrying contraband were also intercepted at prisons in Georgia and Washington State.

“While smuggling contraband into prison or jail through any method is illegal, no statute specifically barred drones from flying on or above the grounds of correctional facilities,” said Senator Hill. “SB 1355 updates current law to make clear that using drones to smuggle contraband into correctional facilities is also unlawful.”

Other Resources:

SB 1355:
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1355

SB 1355 Fact Sheet
https://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/pdf/sb_1355_fact_sheet.pdf

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov