SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — $180 million dollars is now earmarked to help make federal prisons safer. It comes after a corrections officer was murdered in the line of duty.
This fight for funding has been on U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright’s agenda since 2013 when corrections officer, Eric Williams, was brutally murdered by an inmate at USP Canaan.
10 years ago Representative Cartwright has sworn into congress, a tragedy early on would influence much of his work during his time in office.
“Eric was a correctional officer at the Canaan facility when he was attacked by a savagely, violent prisoner,” stated Cartwright.
Eric Williams was murdered by an inmate at USP Canaan on February 25, 2013. This attack is what began Congressman Cartwright’s efforts to assist federal prisons across the country.
“It’s a big victory for the citizens of the united states, because how we treat our correctional officers and how we treat our inmates really matters. This makes everybody safer,” explained Cartwright.
Over $180 million dollars in additional funding for the federal bureau of prisons in the 2023 government spending package has been secured.
The first issue to be addressed – resolving critical staffing shortages. Some that could have saved Williams’ life.
“I was so angry over what happened to my son. And when I found out about him working alone, about the fact that he had no way of protecting himself. I thought that was an outrage,” said Donald Williams, Eric’s father.
On the day of the fatal attack, Williams alone was in charge of 125 high-risk, high-security inmates.
“We were just blown away by the fact he was there all by himself with all those violent criminals and he had nothing to protect himself, and so Don and I decided we’re going to do something about it so it never happens again,” said Jean Williams, mother of Eric.
Additional staffing could have saved his life.
“There’s no question that if Eric Williams had, had a partner that day he wouldn’t have died,” stated Representative Cartwright.
Representative Cartwright and the Williams family have been fighting for the last decade in Eric’s honor to create safer prisons. The fight is far from over.
“When they resolve the problems that existed when my son was killed, then I can be satisfied and go home and be done,” said Donald.
Although the funding has been secured, the work is not nearly done for the congressman.
Cartwright’s next job is to oversee the funding and ensure that it does go where it is supposed to which is towards federal prisons’ staffing shortages across the country.