April 26, 2017

Tim Kauffman

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AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Eric Young attends 20th Year Memorial Service of Officer Scott Williams

Young says that stricter penalties may protect more correctional officers on the job 

LOMPOC, CA  On the 20th anniversary of Correctional Officer Scott Williams' murder, American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals (CPL) President Eric Young called for stricter penalties to protect other officers from suffering the same fate. 

"Correctional officers work day in and day out in our nation's prisons so that our citizens may know peace," said Eric Young, President of AFGE's Council of Prison Locals. "Before his death, Officer Scott Williams had two weapons shoved down from behind into his neck – severing both his carotid arteries. Although mortally wounded, he was able to come to the aid of another correctional worker in danger. His murder at the hands of an inmate is a clear example to the public of the sacrifices that law enforcement officers make for our security of the country, and an example of the clear and present danger our correctional workers face daily."   

The inmate accused of killing Officer Williams was scheduled to stand trial back in 2005, but that still has not happened.  This incident was caught on film, yet justice has eluded the Williams family since April 3, 1997.  Kristy, Scott's wife, spoke at his memorial.  She mentioned Scott dropped off their two daughters (five-year-old Kaitlin and 10-month-old Kallee) at their restaurant prior to Scott leaving for work. She stated, “I kissed him and watched him drive off in his new truck."

"This is the reality of all our correctional workers across this country who leave their families daily heading to work.  They never know if they will return," Young said.  

Young added, "These stabbings are a reminder to the general public of the dangerous work that correctional professionals take on every day and should be a constant reminder to legislators and administration officials to appropriately fund our prisons. We need proper staffing levels so we can manage safe prisons.  We are not a swamp!  We are law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect and defend the Constitution.  We are the people who protect the people in America - from enemies foreign and domestic. Officer Williams’ murderer was presumed to have been radicalized by an Islamic leader prior to the vicious assaults of Officer Williams and other responding staff," Young said.  

Young called on Congress to pass bills like the Thin Blue Line Act and Back the Blue Act to put stricter penalties in place for inmates who kill our staff in the performance of their duties.  

The Thin Blue Line Act – H.R. 115 – was introduced in the House on Jan. 3, 2017 by Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida and has already gained 12 cosponsors. They are: Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, and Brian Mast of Florida, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Tom Reed of New York, Steve Russell of Oklahoma, Lou Barletta and Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, Michael Conaway and Brian Babin of Texas, and David McKinley of West Virginia. In the 114th Congress it was introduced in the Senate – S. 2034 –  by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and had 24 cosponsors. The Back the Blue Act – S. 3184 – was introduced in the 114th Congress by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, and had 13 cosponsors.

“Passing the Thin Blue Line Act and Back the Blue Act would create a powerful deterrent for inmates who kill correctional officers," Young said. "Our staff doesn't carry guns in prisons. When they are subject to imminent bodily harm, they don't have the same tools as law enforcement officers on the street to protect themselves. We want to know however that there's an ultimate consequence when someone takes the life of our correctional staff.  Then, and only then will it make us feel safer behind the prison walls and fences in America," Young asserted.

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