Assembly Bill to Protect NJ Public Safety Officers Gains Final Legislative OK

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Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Raj Mukherji, Elizabeth Muoio, Jamel Holley, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Sheila Oliver, Joe Danielsen and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to support workers who are attacked while supervising inmates or detainees was approved 34-0 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill was approved by the Assembly in February. It now goes to the governor.

Under current law, a corrections officer or juvenile detention officer who is seriously injured after a prison riot or inmate attack and cannot work does not receive any salary while waiting for workers' compensation to take effect, which can take several months.

A recent rise in attacks on corrections officers highlights the need to address this gap in state statute, Benson noted.

The bill (A-3422) would establish a compensation program that would allow state corrections officers, juvenile corrections officers, juvenile detention officers, parole officers and probation officers who suffer bodily injury as the result of an attack by inmates, detainees or other persons under their supervision to continue to receive full wages until they begin receiving workers' compensation payments. 

In addition to workers' compensation, the injured employee also would receive regular supplemental payments from his or her employer in an amount that, when combined with workers' compensation, equals his or her net wage at the time of the injury. 

The bill's provisions also would apply to civilian employees who work directly with inmates or detainees, and to probation officers who suffer bodily injury as the result of an assault committed by an inmate, detainee, or person on probation while engaged in official duties.

"Work-related injuries, especially those related to targeted acts of violence, should not be grounds for a reduction in pay," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "This legislation establishes fairness for the public safety officers who work hard every day in correctional facilities."

State Human Services police officers, conservation officers and park police officers who suffer bodily injury as the result of an assault while engaged in the arrest or transportation of a suspect or person in their custody and civilian employees who work directly with inmates or detainees and suffer bodily injury due to an attack while performing their official duties also would be eligible for the compensation program, as would Palisades Interstate Park officers, campus police officers, and medical security officers under the supervision of the Department of Human Services.

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