Countering the Emerging Drone Threat to Correctional Security is a Rand Corporation report by Joe Russo, Dulani Woods, Samuel Peterson, Michael J.D. Vermeer, and Brian A. Jackson.

Drones pose a significant and evolving threat to the safety and security of correctional facilities throughout the United States. Conspirators are utilizing these unmanned aerial vehicles to smuggle various contraband items, including drugs, cell phones, and even weapons, into correctional institutions. The lucrative nature of contraband trafficking within these facilities makes drones an attractive and relatively low-risk method for smuggling large quantities in a single flight.

Detecting drones entering correctional airspace can be challenging, and even if detected, responding swiftly enough to intercept any dropped contraband before it reaches inmates presents further difficulties. Additionally, while some successful prosecutions have occurred, holding conspirators accountable is often complex. Practical and legal constraints currently prevent the active neutralization of drones, necessitating a multifaceted approach to address this threat effectively.

This approach involves leveraging drone detection technologies, reinforcing core correctional practices, employing forensic and investigative techniques, and fostering partnerships with law enforcement agencies at both state and federal levels. By implementing a comprehensive strategy that combines these elements, correctional institutions can better mitigate the risks associated with drone-enabled contraband smuggling.

The report presents findings and recommendations from a workshop convened to explore the essential requirements for effectively addressing the drone threat. The insights garnered are relevant to a broad spectrum of stakeholders: justice-system participants, correctional professionals, technology innovators, and researchers.

Publication Date– March 2024

Countering the Emerging Drone Threat to Correctional Security contains the following major sections:

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Quantifying the Scope of the Problem
  • Drivers of Drone Incidents
  • Specific Threats
  • Addressing the Drone Threat
  • Drone Detection Systems
  • Conspirator Countermeasures
  • Response
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Determining the Scope of the Problem
  • Assessing Risk and Needs
  • Selecting, Acquiring, and Implementing Solutions
  • Testing and Evaluating Solutions
  • Policy and Practice
  • Conclusion

This document does not note distribution limitations. Rand Corporation offers readers the opportunity to download the eBook for free.

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See the C-UAS Hub Corrections Sector resource page for more information and references.

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Post Image- Aerial view of the Utah State Prison (Image Credit: Adobe Stock by Jeremy)