WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today announced that the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has agreed to allow correctional officers at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg to carry pepper spray for their protection as part of a pilot program. The program, based on legislation Senator Casey introduced last year, will study the effectiveness of the policy at reducing assault rates and protecting prison employees.
“Guards 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 responded to my legislation and chosen Lewisburg to study the effectiveness of this policy that has already helped to reduce assaults at state institutions.”
Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report finding that some state correctional facilities that allow guards to carry pepper spray saw reduced assault rates as a result of the policy. Currently, BOP bars 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. The Lewisburg facility was chosen to participate in the pilot as one of seven facilities across the country.