Assemblyman Daniel Benson on Wednesday weighed in on Gov. Christie’s conditional veto this week of legislation he sponsored that would ensure certain public employees continue to receive fair compensation after being forced out of work due to injuries from being attacked while supervising inmates or detainees.
The legislation (S-596/A-3422), which received nearly unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature, would have established a compensation program similar to police officers 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 under their supervision to continue to receive full wages until they begin receiving workers’ compensation payments.
Christie’s conditional veto, among other things, would limit the compensation program to those who suffer more serious types of injuries and also limit the duration these benefits can be received to no more than six months.
“We owe it to them to have their backs,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “While I am concerned over the six-month time limit Gov. Christie’s conditional veto would impose on these benefits, I am willing to work with the administration to push a final version across the finish line that still maintains our key priorities. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that public employees who put their life on the line to protect public safety and uphold the law are not forgotten in their time of need.”
Benson noted that 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 prompted Benson to address this gap in state statute.
“A serious injury that forces an officer out of work for a substantial amount of time can have a significant impact on their finances. 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. 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,” Benson added.