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N.Y. bill would give corrections officers more death benefits

The bill would allow beneficiaries to receive the pension benefits of the deceased corrections officer if they had retired on the date of their death

New York State Department of Corrections

New York State Senate

By Joe LoTemplio
The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — A bill that would give correction officers more peace of mind when it comes to retirement is moving forward in the State Legislature.

“It’s not right that correction officers do not have this,” Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D- Chateaugay Lake ) said.

Jones sponsored what is known as the “Death Gamble” bill for correction officers in the Assembly, which was approved Monday in Albany.


The bill simply allows beneficiaries to receive the pension benefits of the deceased if they had retired on the date of their death. This was enacted for police officers, firefighters, and teachers in 2000 to incentivize public employees who wish to work past retirement age.

Correction officers and judges are currently excluded from Death Gamble.

Jones, a former correction officer himself, said that without the Death Gamble bill, for those who work beyond retirement age, their beneficiary would get three times the worker’s salary, but not the pension that was earned. The bill would allow the beneficiaries to receive the worker’s full pension, which is often a much larger payout.

“All law enforcement officers deserve Death Gamble benefits including corrections officers,” Jones said.

“Correction officers work every day to protect our communities and it is past time we make this law in New York state.”


Jones said changing the law would not only be fair for officers and their families, it will help in recruiting and retaining officers, which has been a challenge in recent years.

The union that represents correction officers, New York State Correction Officers Police Benevolent Association, agrees with the bill.

“As a past member of NYSCOPBA, Assemblyman Billy Jones’ experience as a correction officer provides him with a unique perspective and understanding of the challenges that NYSCOPBA members face every day,” NYSCOPBA President Chris Summers said.

“This legislation is vital to the members of NYSCOPBA and their families. On behalf of the members of NYSCOPBA. I want to thank Assemblyman Jones for steering this bill through the Assembly with unanimous support. NYSCOPBA is now calling on the State Senate to follow Assemblyman Jones’ lead and pass NYSCOPBA’s Death Gamble legislation before the end of the 2024 legislative session.”


Jones said he is working with Senate colleagues to get the bill passed in that house as well.

The bill was approved by both houses last year, but was not signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“We got it through last year and we are hoping to get it through again this year, and we are hopeful the governor will sign it,” Jones said.

“That’s what we need.”


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