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Examining the Health Risks for Corrections Professionals

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 63 Issue: 6 Dated: October 2001 Pages: 106-108
Lester N. Wright; M. Kay Northrup
Susan L. Clayton
Date Published
3 pages
This article examined the health risks for corrections professionals
The daily on-the-job dangers correctional officers face often can be avoided with physical protection, security precautions, and equipment. Although avoiding security and injury risks is an essential part of the job, corrections professionals often ignore even bigger risks to their health. Smoking, poor eating habits, unattended medical conditions, lack of exercise and stress contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, further increasing health risks. Ignoring these problems increases the risk of an unhealthy staff and may cause serious illness or even death. These problems must be addressed because correctional staff health is just as essential as safety and security. This article examined the health risks posed to correctional personnel in the following areas: infectious disease, physical conditioning, obesity, smoking, and stress. It was interesting to note that correctional staff unions demanded personal alarms, Kevlar jackets, additional training, and new security equipment for protection. Seldom did one hear them ask for wellness services, bonuses for physical fitness, or support for those who stopped smoking. While many of the security enhancements make sense, keeping staff healthy enough to respond to an emergency without killing them is probably at least as important.