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.

Vandals Self-Incriminate Themselves through Social Media

Two vandals were arrested after they self-incriminated themselves through a social media post.

Bragging leads to arrest

Photo by Ryan Adams

23 year old Kevin Hayes and 20 year old Thomas Anderson were arrested after someone saw a Snapchat video by Hayes showing the two individuals inside a Spanish Fork church building that had been recently broken into and vandalized. In the video the two could be heard bragging about what they had done, thus self-incriminating themselves. The person viewing the snap video saved it and alerted authorities. The duo was arrested for vandalism related charges.

Vandalism

The two young men were each charged with burglary for breaking into the LDS church as well as criminal mischief for the vandalism that took place once they gained access to the building. Utah Code 76-6-106 states: “A person commits criminal mischief if the person . . . intentionally damages, defaces, or destroys the property of another.” The penalties for vandalism depend on the value of the property that is damaged. Utah Code 76-6-106 goes on to explain . . . violation of this section is a:

(i) Second degree felony if the actor’s conduct causes or is intended to cause pecuniary loss equal to or in excess of $5,000 in value;

(ii) Third degree felony if the . . . pecuniary loss [is]equal to or in excess of $1,500 but is less than $5,000 in value;

(iii) Class A misdemeanor if the . . . pecuniary loss [is] equal to or in excess of $500 but is less than $1,500 in value; and

(iv) Class B misdemeanor if the . . . pecuniary loss [is] less than $500 in value.”

Authorities estimate Hayes and Anderson caused around $10,000 in damage, increasing both of their criminal mischief charges to the max penalty of second degree felonies carrying a possible prison term of one to 15 years in prison plus a $10,000 fine.

Marijuana Clandestine Lab Busted in 55+ Utah Community

A marijuana clandestine lab was busted in a 55+ community located in Southern Utah and at least one person arrested was as senior citizen.

Semi-retired

Photo by: Mark

63 year old Richard James Hughes, a senior resident in the retirement community of SunRiver St. George was arrested after drug enforcement agents uncovered a marijuana lab Hughes and 38 year old Bradley Cameron Madsen were operating out of Hughes home and garage. Agents delivered a search warrant upon the house while unsuspecting neighbors in the peaceful neighborhood watched in disbelief. Authorities discovered an excessive amount of dried marijuana and equipment likely used to make Dab, a potent butane hash oil with a highly concentrated amount of THC. Dab is used to result in a stronger and more rapid high than normal smoking of marijuana would be able to produce. Hughes and Madsen were arrested on multiple charges including engaging in a clandestine laboratory operation.

Clandestine lab

Utah Code 58-37d-4 states “It is unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally . . . engage in compounding, synthesis, concentration, purification, separation, extraction, or other physical or chemical processing of any substance, including a controlled substance.” That section goes on the note that “a person who violates [this subsection] is guilty of a second degree felony punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term of not less than 3 years nor more than 15 years.”

Hobby or side job

Hughes’ neighbors were shocked to hear that a fellow resident in the popular retirement community was engaging in illegal activity involving operating a clandestine lab. Some may have wondered if he stumbled into a unorthodox hobby that came with legal hazards or if he picked up a “work from home” job to support himself financially, much like other residents trying to survive in one of the faster growing areas in Utah. Regardless of the reason, according to Utah law, he will have at least “3 years nor more than 15” to figure things out before he is released back into the community.