COLUMBIA, S.C. - State officials are installing new equipment at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville after someone used a drone to try to smuggle contraband into the maximum security prison.
The State newspaper reported two new surveillance towers and thermal imaging cameras are being added to help prevent the smuggling of cellphones, drugs and other contraband.
Corrections Department Director Bryan Stirling the contraband items serve as money to inmates and create problems for guards and other employees.
"A cellphone in the hands of an offender is a weapon," Stirling said.
A man was arrested in July In connection with an attempt to use a drone to fly over the fence and drop off cellphones, tobacco products and marijuana. Officials found the drone and material in bushes outside the prison.
The man's name has not been released while the investigation continues.
Stirling says most attempts to throw items over the fence for the inmates occur at night, so the thermal technology cameras should help detect such incidents.
Correctional officers perform routine perimeter walks and searches, but smugglers have been known to camouflage packages of contraband as lumps of grass or rocks, Stirling said.
"My main focus is that public servants that work at the Department of Corrections are able to go home to their families at night," he said.
Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com