A rookie correctional police officer was punched in the head several times by an inmate at the Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Bordentown Thursday morning.

The assault happened during a shift change around 8:40 a.m., according to NJPBA Local 105 president William Sullivan. Two inmates provoked the officer causing him to radio for help in anticipation of a possible attack, he said.

Other officers came to the scene and restrained the inmate, who they said was strongly resisting arrest. He was charged with aggravated assault. The officer remained hospitalized on Friday morning.

Juvenile correctional officer after an assault at the at the Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Bordentown
Juvenile correctional officer after an assault at the at the Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Bordentown (NJPBA Local 105)

Indicative of issues in the prison system

Sullivan told the Townsquare News Network that the officer is a recent police academy graduate and is a little "shell shocked" at what happened.

"He seems to be in good spirits and hopefully we help him overcome his injuries and he gets back out there," Sullivan said.

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Sullivan blames the incident in part on some of the strategies and techniques that he says are creating stress and bad situations.

"The problem we have is that people from the Attorney General's Office and outside come in and teach these new recruits that the last thing you want to do is put your hands on an inmate regardless," Sullivan said. "What they fail to realize is that when you're in a prison environment sometimes you have to be the first one to act or things like this you hesitate and unfortunately you become the victim of a vicious assault by multiple inmates."

Union: No real punishment for inmates who assault guards

Another problem for Sullivan is the lighter punishment for inmates who are charged with assaulting an officer their sentence runs concurrently instead of consecutively. He believes that the prison system is one major incident away from losing control.

"The solitary confinement act that was passed you're not allowed to punishment an inmate or put him in a different area of an institution and limit them for 72 hours. You're getting no punishment for doing this to an officer," Sullivan said. "It shouldn't take a tragedy to accomplish change. But that's the way it ever seems to happen."

Sullivan pointed out that many in the "juvenile" system are over the age of 18. Inmates are not moved to the adult system when they become adults.

"If you start your sentence when you're 14 and you're 23-years-old you're still in that facility," Sullivan said.

Acting Juvenile Justice Commission executive director Dr. Jennifer LeBaron on Friday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.

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