Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has agreed to expand a pilot program allowing institution unit staff who work with inmates to carry pepper spray for their protection in high security institutions. This will include members of the institution unit team who spend a majority of their time working directly with inmates, such as the Unit Manager, Case Manager, Counselor, and Unit Secretary. The expansion follows efforts Senator Casey championed to bring the pepper spray program to correctional officers in high security institutions.
“Personnel working in high security institutions face thousands of assaults every year, so they deserve to have every tool possible to ensure their safety and lessen the risk of violence they face every day,” said Senator Casey. “I’m pleased that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has chosen to implement this policy that has helped to reduce assaults.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in 2011 finding that some state correctional facilities that allow guards to carry pepper spray saw reduced assault rates as a result of the policy. Until 2012’s Casey-backed pilot program was initiated, BOP had barred all correctional officers from carrying pepper spray.
Senator Casey introduced the Federal Correctional Officer Protective Equipment Act to carry out GAO’s recommendation that BOP hold a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of the policy. In June 2012, the Lewisburg facility was chosen to participate in a limited pilot program. In March 2013, the Bureau of Prisons announced that guards at all high security facilities will have access to this form of protection, including the Allenwood and Canaan prisons, located in Pennsylvania.