Lawmakers Consider Better Protection for Correctional Officers in Federal Prisons

The murder of a Williamsport correctional officer who was killed on the job has the victim’s parents pushing for legislation that would enable prison guards to better protect themselves.

Currently the nation’s federal correctional officers do not carry any kind of personal protection during their shifts but the proposed bill, to be named after Eric Williams, the officer killed on duty, would change that restriction and provide the protection these officers require to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

Williams was unarmed when he was attacked and killed by an inmate inside a Wayne County federal prison in 2013.

This is not the first time that there has been a push for legislation allowing correctional officers to carry some level of self-defense. Officers and unions have been trying for years to get lawmakers to act on this particular issue and the proposed law would allow officers in both medium as well as high security federal institutions to carry pepper spray while on duty.

Many in the corrections industry, including officers themselves, believe that something as simple as having a mace or pepper spray canister on their person during working hours would give officers a better chance if there is some kind of altercation with inmates.

Corrections officers across the United States have said through their union representatives that they do not feel safe going to work every day without being armed. That’s why a pilot program to test the idea is underway in several penitentiaries across the country and the officers involved in the program say that it is already helping them feel better protected.

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The senate judiciary committee is currently considering the proposed Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act bill. Eric’s parents, as well as correctional officers all over the country, are hoping that they will give them a favorable vote soon.

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