|Posted:||May 10, 2016 01:21 PM|
|From:||Representative Pam Snyder and Rep. Tim Mahoney|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Pepper Spray in State Prisons|
In the near future, we will be introducing legislation to require the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide pepper spray, also known as OC or oleoresin capsicum spray, to all state prison guards to ensure that they always have some form of self-defense.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law bipartisan legislation to protect federal correctional officers. The Eric Williams Correctional Officers Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, requires the Bureau of Prisons to issue non-lethal pepper spray to guards in medium and high security prisons for their own protection. The law was named in honor of 34 year old Eric Williams, who in February 2013, was working alone in a housing unit of 125 inmates, carrying only a radio, handcuffs, and keys. A gang member, who was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, ambushed and murdered Officer Williams - beating him savagely enough to crush his skull and stabbing him with a prison-made weapon 129 times. Senators Toomey and Casey worked with Eric's parents, Don and Jean Williams, to introduce federal legislation to help protect other federal correctional officers from Eric's fate.
Our legislation is based off of the federal act and would require the DOC to issue non-lethal pepper spray to all state corrections officers working in medium and high security state prisons. Furthermore, the officers would complete a training course on the use of such spray before being issued it, and then attend annual training thereafter.
We believe, as state legislators, it is our responsibility to ensure our state correctional officers are afforded the same protection as their federal counterparts. Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation and help keep our state prison guards safe on the job.
Introduced as HB2084