After state corrections officers staged a mock funeral on the steps of the state House last month, with some wearing Chris Christie masks, the New Jersey Senate responded by approving legislation that would establish a compensation program for New Jersey corrections officers who have been attacked or injured by inmates in their custody. State and local police officers already have access to such benefits when they are hurt by detainees. Legislators say the bill will bring corrections officers into parity with their colleagues.
A spokesperson for corrections officers, Elegia Then, said that under prior law, corrections officers injured in the line of duty typically got about 40% of their annual salary. Then, herself a victim of violence in 2014, has been collecting less than half of her $44,000 salary as she recovers from brain injuries.
The new law, if signed by Governor Christie, would establish a fund for detention officers, as well as juvenile and adult corrections officers, providing them with access to compensation if they suffer bodily injury because of contact with inmates or detainees. Currently, state corrections officers must file a workers' compensation claim, and may be ruled only partially disabled. The pending legislation would also cover parole officers, conservation officers, state Human Services police officers and state park police.
Before the bill can become law, it must be approved by the state Assembly and signed by Governor Christie.
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