ean and Don Williams came to the Lycoming County Court House in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday to join AFGE and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey to push for passage of a bill that would provide protections to Bureau of Prisons correctional officers.
At a press conference held by the AFGE Council of Prison Locals (CPL), Jean and Don talked about why Congress needs to pass the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act, which would allow officers in medium to high security federal prisons to carry pepper spray.
“Eric was tortured. He died a horrible death and as a mother, I would never want to see anybody else go through that,” said Eric’s mother Jean. Her son was stabbed 129 times by an inmate at United States Penitentiary, Canaan last year. Eric was unarmed during the attack.
The pepper spray “would give a corrections officer a better chance if there is a confrontation, if there is an incident,” Sen. Toomey said.
Besides the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey, the group discussed understaffing and underfunding at BOP and the need to make changes to mandatory minimum sentences to improve the safety and security of prison staff and inmates. After the news conference, staff members of Sen. Toomey joined CPL Northeast Regional Vice President Phil Glover and local union members to tour USP Allenwood.
AFGE will continue to advocate for safer prison conditions so Eric’s death would be the last. “We lost someone dear and close to us and we must keep advocating to make it safer,” said Darrell Palmer, president of AFGE Local 3003 at Canaan.