U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today announced that the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has agreed to allow correctional officers at U.S. Penitentiaries in Allenwood and Canaan to carry pepper spray for their protection The program, based on a pilot program Senator Casey championed, will expand the availability of pepper spray to all high security facilities nationwide
"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. "The fact that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has responded to my legislation and chosen Allenwood and Canaan to study the effectiveness of this policy that has helped to reduce assaults at state institutions is an important development."
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 last year'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. Today, the Bureau of Prisons announced that guards at all high security facilities will soon have access to this form of protection, including the Allenwood and Canaan prisons, located in Pennsylvania.