WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council of Prisons Locals (CPL) applauds the continued expansion of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) pilot program to provide pepper spray to workers at medium, high, and maximum security prisons.
“Our staff, day to day, work with some of the worst offenders our society has ever produced,” said CPL President Eric Young. “Prior to this, correctional officers had no means of self-defense as they discharge their duties on behalf of the American people supervising these inmates. However, this expansion is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, we hope that this program will be extended to all federal prisons working at medium or higher security prisons with the passage of the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act. Our colleagues deserve to feel safe in their workplace.”
The Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act was introduced May 8, 2014 by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The bill was named after a correctional officer and AFGE member murdered in the line of duty. If passed, it would allow federal 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 violent prison inmates. The bill also would require annual training of BOP correctional workers prior to the issuance.
“We have seen two of our brothers murdered by the inmates under their watch in the last two years,” said President Young. “And just last month, we saw two more vicious attacks when an inmate attacked staff with razor blades at the medium security prison at FCI Sheridan. It is paramount that we pass the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act now to provide our prison workers with the tools they need to protect themselves, before any more workers are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.”