Scranton, Lackawanna County - As family and friends mourn the loss of Eric Williams, the federal Bureau of Prisons is planning changes at its high-security lock-ups nationwide.
Senator Bob Casey announced that the Bureau of Prisons agreed Friday to allow guards to carry pepper spray at all of its high security prisons.
When the corrections officer from Nanticoke was killed Monday night in USP Canaan was on duty, union members say he only had keys, a radio and handcuffs to protect himself.
"I want to make sure that we push the Bureau of Prisons to implement this over months and not years," Senator Casey said.
The Scranton democrat says the decision expands on a pilot program that was done.
"There was a GAO (Government Accountability Office) study that showed that when they had the pepper spray available in state correctional institutions, the assaults went down so we had good reason to introduce the bill," Senator Casey said.
Earlier this week, Dr. Harry Dammer with the University of Scranton questioned if changes would be made based on the death of Eric Williams.
Dr. Dammer worries that inmates might be able to get the pepper spray and could then use it to their advantage.
"They could take the pepper spray and then use it on the second or third person who works in the system to maybe get a little futher," Dr. Dammer said on Wednesday.
Senator Casey says the change is something the corrections officers and their union have been asking for.
"I don't think any policy in this area is going to be zero-risk but right now they have no protection really that is immediate and that direct," Senator Casey said. "They're the ones who are on the front-lines everyday and they've been asking for this for a long time."
In Pennsylvania, the change will not only affect the federal prison in Wayne County but also the one in Allenwood in Central Pennsylvania.
Senator Casey doesn't expect the pepper spray to come into the prisons overnight. He says it will take months because training will be required.