Law enforcement Injury prevention

More prison workers to receive pepper spray under expanded program

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Washington – A pilot program that provides prison workers with pepper spray as a safety measure has been expanded to six additional correctional facilities.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) announced the expansion Dec. 1. The pilot program is similar to one Casey proposed in 2011 legislation in response to a Government Accountability Office report that found facilities allowing guards to carry pepper spray had lower assault rates.

Casey’s legislation never moved out of committee, but the Bureau of Prisons launched a pilot program in 2012 allowing guards to carry pepper spray. That program later expanded to all high-security facilities in 2013. The recently announced expansion will include six medium-security facilities. Before the program began, the Bureau of Prisons prohibited correctional officers from carrying pepper spray.

“This announcement is a step in the right direction that will increase the safety of prison workers,” Casey said in a press release. The senator has called on Congress to pass legislation making the pilot program permanent.