Task Force Report Recommended More Training to Combat Gang Violence in Correctional Facilities
Legislation Assemblymen R. Bruce Land and Bob Andrzejczak sponsored to improve safety among state corrections officers by requiring more training was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.
“Corrections officers face dangers in their workplace environment every day, with riots and violent assaults threatening their well-being and even their lives,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a retired captain for the New Jersey Department of Corrections. “Raising the standards for training will help ensure that these officers can do their jobs effectively and decrease the likelihood of serious injury on the job.”
The bill (A-801) would require the Department of Corrections to institute a mandatory annual 40-hour in-service training program. Of the 40 hours, 16 must cover gang management and intelligence, riot control, contraband interdiction and counter-terrorism issues. Training areas covered during the remaining 24 hours would be at the discretion of each correctional facility but must be selected from a department-approved list.
Currently, corrections officers in New Jersey receive firearms and use-of-force training. The 40-hour program would be an addition to this training. An Assembly task force’s report on prison gang violence recommended that corrections officers receive 40 hours of in-service training, a suggestion offered in response to the task force’s finding that officers do not receive enough training to deal with the proliferation of gang activity within New Jersey’s prisons. The American Correctional Association recommends that corrections officers receive a minimum of 40 hours annual in-service training.
“Quality training that aligns with the most pressing concerns within New Jersey’s prisons is an essential part of keeping employees safe,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “The Assembly identified some areas for improvement in the state’s correctional system, and for the sake of the men and women putting themselves in harm’s way as employees, the state must act on those recommendations.”
May 7 to May 13 of each year is National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, which began when President Ronald Reagan in 1984 first designated the week to recognize those working in correctional facilities.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.