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Many MN Correctional Workers Gain Protections

PHOTO: It's a victory for Dave and Barb Kampa and for many of Minnesota's correctional employees, as a new law begins today, requiring ongoing affordable health care for those permanently disabled because of an assault on the job. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.
PHOTO: It's a victory for Dave and Barb Kampa and for many of Minnesota's correctional employees, as a new law begins today, requiring ongoing affordable health care for those permanently disabled because of an assault on the job. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.
August 1, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's one of the rarest of feats -- a bill that wins unanimous approval in the Legislature. One that did officially takes effect today, providing some needed protection for many of Minnesota's correctional employees.

The law requires ongoing affordable health care for those rendered permanently disabled because of an assault in the line of duty - such as Dave Kampa. Kampa was attacked by an inmate at the Stillwater prison in 2010, and when his insurance premiums jumped to $1,600 a month he turned to his union, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, and the legislation took off from there.

"The corrections officers and all the people that go there every day -- they put their lives on the line because you never know what's going to happen," Kampa said. "You're dealing with guys who are never getting out of prison, and that's why I decided that I needed to fight to get the law."

Kampa suffered a brain injury during the prison assault and continues to struggle with various ailments including memory loss, painful migraines and seizures. He said the new law will help him focus on his continued recovery while also keeping his family afloat financially.

"I couldn't afford to pay the insurance out of my pocket," he said. "It would either have been pay my insurance or sell my house, and that was probably the next thing that was going to be on my list to do. When they finally did vote on the law, it gave us breathing room now to survive."

These protections covering many correctional workers already were on the books for Minnesota's police officers and firefighters. Kampa said they also should be extended to others who put themselves at risk working for the state in criminal justice.

"Anybody who works in the prison system or a jail or people who are at the state hospital or halfway houses that are run by the state," he said. "There are people - staff that are working in all these places - who are getting assaulted by offenders. It's happening all the time."

The inmate who assaulted Kampa was sentenced to a year and a day in prison - to begin if and when he finishes his life sentence for the 1996 murder of a teenage boy.

Text of the legislation, SF 1737, is online at revisor.mn.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN