This letter is to applaud incumbent state Assembly people Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling (both D-Monmouth) for their support of bill S-596 which establishes full compensation for corrections officers injured while performing official duties.
Assemblywoman Downey was a primary sponsor and Assemblyman Houghtaling was a sponsor of the bill.
Prior to this bill being signed into law early in July 2017, corrections officers received only worker’s compensation, while police officers and state troopers injured on the job received full pay. I see passage of this bill as just the beginning of what is needed.
First, corrections officers work under extremely dangerous conditions each day, with, for example, 300 corrections officers assaulted in 2012. More needs to be done to improve working conditions to make them safer for corrections officers.
Second, corrections officers’ pay, given how dangerous their work is on a daily basis, should be commensurate with that of police officers. One source reported that police officers’ median salary is $93,590 per year, while corrections officers’ median salary is $73,760.
Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling’s position on improving correction officers’ working conditions is that these heroes in uniform should not have to worry that an unanticipated brutal attack in the line of duty could harm their families financially while recovering from their service-related injuries.
Public safety officers who get attacked on the job should not be punished for something they did not do. 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.
Margaret S. Beekman