After years of resistance, federal prisons embrace pepper spray as an antidote to violence

After six years of pleading and the murders of two of their own, the vast majority of federal correctional officers and other workers are being equipped with pepper spray. Officers in an ongoing pilot program say it's a game-changer in prison safety.

The Bureau of Prisons says it's expanding the 2½-year-old program to include all 47 medium-security prisons, which union officials say are often just as dangerous as high-security facilities.

The Bureau's announcement last month came days after the second anniversary of Officer Eric Williams' death in an inmate ambush at a federal penitentiary in rural Pennsylvania.

The state's senators are pushing a bill named for Williams that would give officers permanent pepper spray access and training. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is asking for a Judiciary Committee hearing on correctional officer safety.