A pair of Ocean County lawmakers say convicted sex offenders who are civilly committed, but not in prison, should be paid the same amount of money as those who are serving jail terms.
A bill proposed Thursday by Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (both R-Ocean) would require civilly committed sexually violent predators to be paid the same rate as state inmates for work performed while in custody “to provide savings for taxpayers.”
Sex offenders may be civilly committed after serving prison terms to allow for further treatment or to reduce their potential to harm the public, the two legislators said in a statement. But while those serving time in state prisons are compensated for work their perform while in custody at a rate of $1.25 to $5 per day, earning an average of $2.33 per day, civilly committed offenders offenders at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel are paid the state minimum wage, currently $8.38 per hour.
The discrepancy was discovered State Auditor Stephen Eells who issued a report on the matter, recommending the gap be closed.
“It costs taxpayers nearly $60,000 per year to house civilly committed violent sexual predators in Avenel,” said McGuckin. “To keep these dangerous offenders off the streets, it’s well worth the money.”
But closing the pay gap, McGuckin said, would yield a savings of $2 million on the total cost of running the Avenel facility.
“The reduced rate we pay to inmates reflects the belief that the work they perform offsets the cost to taxpayers for their confinement,” said Holzapfel. “The same should be true for violent sexual predators who remain in state custody.”