New Bills Introduced to Protect Prison Guards

By Valerie Tysanner |, Jayne Ann Bugda |, Posted By: Nick Hughes

Published 07/02 2014 06:36PM

Updated 07/02 2014 11:42PM

Williamsport, Lycoming County-Working at a prison can be dangerous.

Just ask the parents of Eric Williams a correctional officer stabbed to death by inmates in February of last year.

"When he was attacked he was disarmed so he had nothing. He didn't stand a chance. " said Eric's Mother Jean.

Two new bills by Senator Pat Toomey and Senator Bob Casey aim to keep the tragedy from repeating itself.

Under the Eric Williams Correctional Act, Corrections Officers would be allowed to carry pepper spray inside the prisons which they call overcrowded, violent, places.

"Found dozen shivs and knives, anything you can imagine. I mean they'll tear metal pieces off wall," noted Congressman Tom Marino, (R) 10th District.
"Just imagine being in the worst city that you could possibly be in for 8 to 10 hours a day," added Darrell Palmer, a correctional officer.

There is now a pepper spray pilot program in place.

That's shown the tactic deters violent crime.
"The pepper spray works it is temporarily completely debilitates somebody so its a useful tool," said Senator Pat Toomey.

Eric Williams' parents say they are happy to see their son's death may prevent others from being hurt or even killed.
"I can't bring son back, don't want son to die in vain," said Don Williams.

Senators have also introduced a second bill which will allow correctional officers to carry a gun with them during their commute to work.

The gun would, of course, be placed in a secure gun locker when they arrive at the prisons.

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