Panel approves bill ensuring pepper spray for state corrections officers

HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Reps. Pam Snyder and Timothy S. Mahoney said the House Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved their legislation that would ensure all state corrections officers are equipped with oleoresin capsicum, better known as pepper spray, to deter prison assaults.

“Next up for House Bill 2084 is consideration by the full House of Representatives,” said Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “The small aerosol canisters are a nonlethal deterrent that should be in the hands of all our corrections officers as quickly as possible.”

“I thank the Judiciary Committee for quickly advancing the legislation,” said Mahoney, D-Fayette/Somerset. “Representative Snyder and I learned that few corrections officers carried the spray during a tour of SCI-Fayette just a little over a month ago. We moved to address the issue promptly, and the panel agreed with the urgency.”

During the May 6 tour of the 2,000-inmate state prison in Luzerne Township, the lawmakers were apprised of multiple assaults and a spate of drug busts and weapon seizures at the facility this year.

The southwestern Pennsylvania Democrats noted that H.B. 2084 fittingly was advanced during "Corrections Officers and Employees Month." The designation, H.R. 914, was approved Monday and recognizes the valuable contributions of corrections professionals.

“The pepper spray can incapacitate an assailant within 20 seconds and needs to be an integral part of a safe and effective detention system in the state,” Snyder said.