Criminal Justice Expert Reacts To Corrections Officer’s Death

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SCRANTON -- The FBI is investigating exactly what led to Eric Williams' death.

Investigators said the corrections officer was killed by an inmate at the Caanan Federal Penitentiary in Wayne County Monday night.

Those who knew Williams cannot believe it.

"He was a great guy, he was a good kid. He was a kid as far as I'm concerned, he was a good kid," said Captain Gerald Dennis of Jefferson Township Ambulance.

While the feds try to uncover exactly what happened and why, Dr. Harry Dammer at the University of Scranton said Williams could easily have been a random target.

Dr. Dammer is a professor of criminal justice.

"Maybe the guys involved were asked to perform a murder to prove their gang affiliation, so this correctional officer who was killed had nothing to do with it, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could be something as random as that," said Dr. Dammer.

Dr. Dammer recently published a book comparing criminal justice systems. He has been in prisons around the world, including the Caanan Federal Penitentiary.

While what happened to Williams is a tragedy, Dr. Dammer said it is key to remember, this kind of thing is rare in the federal prison system.

"What I'm always cautious of is to jump to conclusions, to jump to change policies to all of a sudden warrant new things like now they should have pepper spray, now they should have weapons, you know? No, these procedures especially in the Federal Bureau of Prisons is really a good agency, these people know what they're doing," said Dr. Dammer.

Investigators said Williams, 34, was attacked with a homemade weapon, which Dr. Dammer said are almost impossible to eliminate at prisons. Dammer said inmates make them to protect themselves from each other. Correctional officers who have direct contact with inmates do not carry weapons in prisons.