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A Full-contact Sport
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 01/27/2014

Line of scrimmage The upcoming matchup between Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl championship should be a clear indication what a full contact sport looks like. However, football isn’t the only full-contact sport as there are many others that have been designed to inflict pain and injuries when they play the sport. Needless to say when someone gets hurt playing one of these contact sports there are claims of injuries and other things both visible and invisible as well as mental or physically.

Therefore what we have is a sport in which the athletes purposely hit or collide with each other or inanimate objects, including the ground with great force and have a higher risk of transmitting blood borne infections to others. This sport may include actions such as tackling, body checking, blocking and other moves that create minor to extensive injuries depending on where they are hurt or whether or not they were wearing protective gear or equipment.

Working inside a jail or prison is similar to taking the role of an amateur or professional athlete as you are also exposed to the same potentially harmful actions described in full contact sports. Whether the injuries sustained are inflicted as a participant’s role or a spectator’s role the fact is there are many risks associated with being in such an environment.

Secondly it really doesn’t matter whether the injuries were sustained inside a public facility or private facilities the threat level is the same. One has to consider whether or not the damage was done willfully and wanton or unintentional in conduct. One cannot ignore the potential risks related to an injury merely based on being in the wrong place at the wrong time as the job dictates that you act as a first responder to any emergency situation.

In full contact sports, players “deliberately set out to engage in physical contact with their opponents” and subject them to the risk of physical injury by tackling them, ramming them, stabbing them or throwing bio-hazards on them. They have a conscious disregard for the safety of the opposing player as this in an inherent expectation of the rules of engagement and the game. Hopefully, this is fully understood by all players as before they engage in the sport or game or set one footstep inside a jail or prison.

Spectators are also at risk but are effected differently in some cases and receive either direct or indirect harm from the actions taken by the players. Although they have implied an agreement to such exposure by being housed there due to their conviction and breaking the laws, they are always liable to be harmed by others due to the body contact that is inevitable most of the time.

A similarity between corrections and this type of sport can be easily recognized thus a similarly significant fact reveals that working inside such a place may pose or possess a chilling effect that enables them to participate with encouraged vigorous participation to make it effective as a tool of control. This analysis extends to the manner correctional officers and administrators enforce the rules and protection for their conduct as well.

Separate apart from the incidental contact or injuries, this may be brought forth due to unsafe conditions of the facility or the behaviors of those housed within a cell block or dormitory. The fact remains that contact is made to enforce rules and bring order to the setting they work in.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:


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