TRENTON, NJ – State Assembly Democrats sponsored a bill to support workers who are attacked while supervising inmates or detainees, officials said.
Joe Danielsen of Somerset is one of the sponsors of the bill (A-3422) put forth by Democrats Daniel R. Benson, D-14, Raj Mukherji, Elizabeth Muoio, Jamel Holley, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, and Sheila Oliver it is now poised for final legislative approval, a press release Tuesday said.
According to the release, 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.
Current law prevents a correction or juvenile detention officer who is injured during a prison riot or inmate attack from receiving a salary until worker's compensation takes effect, and the process can take several months, according to the release.
“These officers assume a significant deal of risk every day on the job, yet they’re excluded from provisions that make compensation available to other public safety officers,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation is about taking action to eliminate that inconsistency so that people who put their lives on the line aren’t left helpless in the event of an attack.”
Under A-3422 employees would also 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 release said the bill's provisions would also apply to civilian employees who work directly with inmates or detainees. Probation officers who suffer bodily injuries as the result of an assault while engaged in official duties would also be protected by A-3422.
“As it is, a public safety officer who gets attacked on the job essentially is punished for something he or she didn’t do,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “By ensuring that these officers have financial stability after an attack, we can make it clear that New Jersey supports these vital professions and remove a deterrent to entering or staying in that line of work.”
Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic) said that injuries suffered on the job can be both physically and financially “devastating.”
“When they’re trying to rest, and recover from a traumatizing episode, these men and women shouldn’t also have to be concerned about how to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table,” Sumter said.
Downey (D-Monmouth) said the proposed legislation provides “fairness” for public safety officers.
“Public safety officers take on the stressful job of diffusing aggressive situations on a regular basis, and if they get hurt in the process, their families suffer,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Bridging the gap between an officer’s regular salary and workers’ compensation can help that officer focus on healing in the aftermath of an attack.”
“People whose jobs require them to be in harm’s way need to know that they’ll be taken care of if they’re assaulted while at work,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “The work these men and women do is essential to maintaining order and public safety in our state, and it’s important that they know there’s a support system available to them.”
According to the bill, state human services, conservation and park police officers who suffer bodily injury because 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, according to the release.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved the bill and now awaits final legislative approval by the full Assembly, according to the release.