The opinion of the court was delivered by: DEBEVOISE
The matter is before the Court on plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff alleges that he suffered a serious injury at the New Jersey State Prison at Rahway shortly after his commitment on April 11, 1979, and was successively confined at the Rahway State Prison hospital, the V Room Readjustment Unit at Trenton State Prison, and the Trenton State Prison hospital. After his injury plaintiff requested assignment to an institutional job which would enable him to earn work credits against his sentence. He claims, however, that he was denied a work assignment pursuant to a Department of Corrections "policy and practice of precluding all prisoners under its care, who are classified as "medically disabled' from being assigned to any job assignment or receiving any work credit with the exception of those prisoners who were injured while working an institutional job". (Complaint, P 8.)
Defendant Fauver concedes the existence of the policy and practice of which plaintiff complains and that it is codified as Standard 620.5 of the Department of Corrections' Administrative Plan Manual. Standard 620.5 provides, in relevant part, that:
Inmates shall be paid for actual days worked ... Inmates who are assigned to work but are not available because of physical disability or illness shall receive no pay. Inmates who sustain legitimate injuries in the course of institutional employment must be declared incapacitated for work by the institution's medical department. Inmates so identified shall continue to receive their last normal wage, work credits, or other institutional credits toward their parole or maximum release status, until they are declared ready to return to work by the institution's medical department.
Defendant has submitted an affidavit in which he asserts that:
... the distinction ... whereby inmates who become disabled as a result of their institutional occupation are paid until they are able to return to work and those who become injured or ill as a result of other causes are not paid, is based upon the equitable consideration that in the first case the disability would not have resulted but for the inmate's assignment to an institutional occupation and for his activities in that occupation. (P 3)
intend(s) to look into the possibility of long term disabled inmates who live in the hospital at Trenton, participating in an educational program or some other productive occupation whereby such individuals can earn work credits and wages. Obviously, any such occupation would have to be consistent with the inmate's health and mental capacity and with the special considerations which pertain to the hospital area of the prison. (P 6)
Plaintiff contends that under the New Jersey statute governing the allocation of work assignments and work credits to prison inmates, N.J.S.A. 30:4-92, he had a right to earn work credits regardless of his state of health. N.J.S.A. 30:4-92 provides, in relevant part, that:
The inmates of all correctional ... institutions within the jurisdiction of the State Board shall be employed in such productive occupations as are consistent with their health, strength and mental capacity and shall receive such compensation therefor as the State Board shall determine.
Compensation for inmates of correctional institutions may be in the form of cash or remission of time from sentence or both.
As relief, plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that the policy of the Department of Corrections violates the Constitution; a preliminary and permanent injunction compelling defendant to award him such work credits as he would otherwise have received but for his period of disability; and damages for "every day that (his) ...