Drone Delivery to Inmates at Utah Correctional Facilities Prohibited

Due to a bill passed earlier this year, inmates at any of the correctional facilities throughout Utah are prohibited from receiving packages by drone delivery.

H.B. 59

Photo by: John

With the numerous laws that are passed or amended each year in Utah, some are seen as needed, others may be seen as unfair, and then there are a select few laws that leave residents wondering why caused such a regulation from being necessary. H.B. 59 that was passed along with several others this year dealt with unmanned aircrafts, otherwise known as drones, and whether or not they were allowed to be used to deliver items to inmates at correctional facilities. The section amended was Utah Code 72-14-102 and 304 which now states: “An individual may not operate an unmanned aircraft system:
(a) To carry or drop any item to or inside the property of a correctional facility;
(b) In a manner that interferes with the operations or security of a correctional facility.”

A law that may be seen as obvious, H.B. 59 passed in the2018 General Session following a growing problem of illegal package deliveries near prisons.

Illegal contraband drops

In years past, there have been some inmates and their helpers on the outside that have used different methods to try and sneak things into correctional facilities. This can include illegal contraband hidden inside packages, books, and cards. Unlawful items have also been smuggled in with an inmate upon arrest or by another person visiting the inmate at the correctional facility during a scheduled visitation time. Now with the increase in technology, there is a new scheme that has been used to sneak illegal contraband into prisons – drones. Drones have been used across the country to drop items beyond the fence where inmates may have access to them. Drones do not have to approach closely, but can soar several hundred feet above the ground and drop items such as tobacco products, drugs, porn, cell phones and even weapons without being spotted by prison guards. Utah lawmakers wanted to criminalize the practice before it started in Utah, hopefully to prevent any incidents from occurring. Utah Code 72-14-304 that was amended by H.B. 59 now lists the penalty for flying drones near prisons as a class B misdemeanor or a third degree felony if items are dropped on the property of the correctional facility.

Permitted items sent to inmates

While most law abiding citizens wouldn’t dream of using a drone to send items to incarcerated loved ones, this amended law may cause them to wonder exactly what they are allowed to bring or send to those behind bars. One important thing to note is that no item is allowed to be brought into a correctional facility by a visitor of an inmate. Even personal items such as purses, wallets, or jackets are to be left in vehicles or in rented lockers. There are things that may be sent to inmate however. Those who wish to have items delivered to inmates do so through a carefully regulated system put in place by the Utah Department of Corrections.

Letters– Regarding letters sent by mail, UDC states “Inmates may begin receiving mail as soon as they arrive in prison. Multilayered cards, crayon and marker drawings are not allowed.”

Photos– If a friend or family member wants to send pictures to inmates they note: “Inmates are allowed to have 25 photos in their possession; the photos can not be larger than 8X10, may not be Polaroids and must not be pornographic in nature. Inmates may not have photos of or including themselves.”

Books– “Books may only be purchased through the prison Commissary and are sent directly to the prison by the book vendor. Each book is inspected before being delivered to an inmate.”

Magazines – “Family and friends may get a magazine subscription for an inmate by filling out a subscription form listing the inmate, his or her offender number and the facility address. Magazines are then mailed directly to the inmate by the publisher.”

Packages– When a family member goes to camp or on a church mission, their family can send care packages with personal items and comforts from home. Inmates are not allowed these same types of luxuries. UDC warns that “Inmates may not receive packages except when authorized for medical reasons.”

Money – If there is something that a Utah state inmate needs that family or friends would like to help them receive, they may put money onto an inmate’s account. UDC explains that this can be done by mail, telephone, internet, or kiosks through a “third-party provider (Access Corrections) [that] handles deposits to inmate accounts.” Then inmates may use the deposited funds to purchase items from the Commissary.

For more information on regulations surrounding Utah Correctional Facility, contact the Utah Department of Corrections. For help following charges related to illegal drone use, speak with an attorney.

Peeping Tom in Dressing Room Arrested For Voyeurism of a Child

A peeping Tom has been arrested for voyeurism of a child after being caught spying on a young girl in a dressing room of a Salt Lake department store.

Peeping Tom

Photo by: Geoffrey Orthwein

36 year old Jorge Leon-Alfaro was arrested Saturday after an alert mother spotted Leon-Alfaro holding a handheld device under the dressing room stall at Rue 21 where her 12 year old daughter was trying on clothes. Leon-Alfaro was in the dressing room next door to the young girl when he attempted to record the girl while she was changing. Furious, the girl’s mother followed Leon-Alfaro, confronting him about his actions while recording the exchange on her phone. Police arrived shortly after and after reviewing the mother’s testimony as well as other witnesses on scene, arrested Leon-Alfaro for voyeurism of a child.

Voyeurism of a child

Utah Code 76-9-702.7 states:
A person is guilty of voyeurism who intentionally uses any type of technology to secretly or surreptitiously record video of a person:
For the purpose of viewing any portion individual’s body regarding which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether or not that portion of the body is covered with clothing;
without the knowledge or consent of the individual; and
under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
[Voyeurism] is a class A misdemeanor, except [when] committed against a child under 14 years of age is a third degree felony.

Paying attention to surroundings

Authorities are commending the mother as well as others at the scene for being alert and noticing what was happening. During an age when many parents and bystanders may have had their heads buried in their phones, the individuals present were paying attention to their surroundings and were able to stop the suspect before he could continue the disturbing behavior.

Hatchet Wielding Utah Man Held at Gunpoint by Citizen

A hatchet wielding man was held at gunpoint by a citizen after a confrontation with another individual in Provo Utah.

Crosswalk road rage

Photo by: Kyle

55 year old Galen Williams was driving along a Provo, Utah road when he didn’t obey proper rules or etiquette regarding a crosswalk and pulled too far over the crossing lines. An individual who may have been in the crosswalk when Williams approached got into a verbal altercation and was then followed by Williams into a nearby parking lot. There Williams attempted to confront the individual but was stopped by the victim’s father. Williams struck the father in the face with his fist then went to the back of his vehicle and retrieved a hatchet. The father took a firearm from his own vehicle and pointed it at the hatchet wielding Williams until police could arrive.

Aggravated assault

Officers from the Orem Police Department arrived and arrested Williams for assault and aggravated assault.  The assault charges stem from the punch Williams conferred upon the victim’s father and resulted in a class A misdemeanor for the defendant. The Aggravated assault charge is due to the hatchet, even though it wasn’t actually used against another person. Utah Code 76-5-103 states “Aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct that is:

  • An attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
  • A threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
  • An act, commit with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and . . . includes the use of a dangerous weapon”.

Although Williams may have had no plans to actually use the hatchet on one of the victims, he displayed the dangerous weapon during an altercation which could have been taken as a threat of violence with the hatchet. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that does not result in serious bodily injury is a third degree felony.

No charges for the armed citizen

Williams was not the only individual to display a weapon during the confrontation in the parking lot. The father of the victim who turned into a victim himself after being punched in the face pulled a gun on Williams during the incident.  Although the father’s choice of a firearm is also considered a dangerous weapon and had the potential to do more harm from a distance, he will not face any charges for pulling a gun on his assailant.  This is due to Utah law giving people the right to defend themselves.

Force in defense of person

Utah Code 76-2-402 states “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force. . . . A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person’s imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” That section goes on to warn that “A person is not justified in using force . . . if the person:

  • Initially provokes the use of force . . . as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant;
  • Is attempting to commit . . . or fleeing after . . . a felony. . . :
  • Was the aggressor or was engaged in combat by agreement. . . “

Since the father of the victim was not the one to start the fight and didn’t intentionally aggravate Williams to make him reach for the hatchet, his choice to pull a loaded firearm on Williams in his defense was justified.  Anyone who may be facing aggravated assault charges for displaying or using a weapon during an altercation is encouraged to speak with an attorney to see if their case may actually constitute force in defense of person.