The Bureau of Prisons last week expanded the pepper spray pilot program from high-security prisons to seven medium-security prisons.
BOP also expanded the program to include correctional workers in the Recreation, Receiving and Discharge, and Food Services departments. AFGE praises this important step, but is urging BOP to do more.
“This is a great improvement, but there is still work to be done,” said AFGE Council of Prisons Locals President Eric Young. “The current expansion does not go far enough. Not all medium security prisons are included in the expansion, leaving hundreds of correctional officers still vulnerable to violence in overcrowded and understaffed prisons.”
To fix the problem, AFGE is urging Congress to pass the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act, which would allow all BOP correctional officers and employees who work in high or medium security prisons to routinely carry pepper spray so they may defend themselves and others if physically attacked by dangerously violent prison inmates.
The bill also would require such BOP correctional officers and employees to complete an annual training course on pepper spray use before being issued pepper spray. The bipartisan bill was introduced in May by Senators Pat Toomey (PA), Bob Casey (PA), and Joe Manchin (WV). The bill has its companion bill in the House.