NJ prison officers have enough to deal with: Why force the vaccine? (Opinion)
It goes without saying that prison guards in New Jersey don't want to get shot. But what needs to be said is that if the Department of Corrections officers don't take the COVID vaccine and booster shots, they risk losing their jobs.
What also needs to be said is that despite the fight, the New Jersey state Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit from the police union, upholding the ruling of an appeals court that upheld the mandate imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The ruling was 5-2.
Why on Earth is this happening? If the prisoners are not required to get vaccinated — that is, those that are actually remaining in prison as opposed to those who have been released due to Gov. Murphy's public health emergency —then why should the guards, who risk their lives every time they go to work?
It's not like there's a backup bench of Department of Corrections workers that can step in and do the job of these properly trained men and women who know the inner workings of the prison they guard. I had two such guards call into my show Wednesday night.
"Frank" who is a 5-year Department of Corrections police officer, says he will not be taking the vaccine. I asked Frank how hard it will be to replace the lost guards.
"With all the new laws and everything and the use of force policy, there's no way someone can just get brought into that, there's just no way," he said.
Frank talked about the training these officers receive
"You have to go through an academy, There's so much stuff you've got to know and it's dangerous for someone who doesn't know what they're doing."
So no bench?
"People aren't lining fo this job right now," Frank said.
Frank also spoke of what the next move would be.
"The PBA is saying that between 800 and a thousand people are likely to leave. Now if that happens, these guys are going to get hit with mandatory overtime every other day and how long are they going to do that for?"
What about prison lockdowns?
"The thing that nobody sees is that last month the whole jail was on lockdown due to COVID because everyone's testing positive but nobody's sick and nobody's dying."
Again, whether or not you take a COVID vaccine should be your personal choice.
As dangerous as some say not taking the jab is, I think it's more dangerous to put people, including the backup guards, at risk by taking away the Department of Corrections officers who protect us from those incarcerated.
To force these men and women to take the shot or risk losing their jobs is not only flat-out wrong but poses a danger to the community. Perhaps those forcing them to do it should take a walk through the jails and see how indispensable these brave people are.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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