Ashley Stuewe: The woman on guard
Corrections Officer Ashley Stuewe began her career at the Norton Correctional Facility at the young age of 20. She wanted to go into law enforcement, but wasn’t old enough at the time. She’s been at the prison for two years.
By Mike Stephens
Reporter, The Norton Telegram
At only twenty two years old, Ashley Stuewe has been a Corrections Officer I at the Norton Correctional Facility for two years. Initially, she wanted to go into law enforcement, but was too young at the time, so she decided on a career in corrections.
Ashley and her husband Sean, who is a farmer, are the parents of a five month old baby boy. “He’s a lot of work all by himself,” said Stuewe.
The couple lives in Almena and Sean’s father, Scott Stuewe, lives in Norton. The Stuewe’s moved here two years ago from Springfield, Ill.
Ashley got her start in law enforcement when she enlisted in the Army National Guard as a military police officer. She also attended Western Illinois University in McComb, Ill., for two years where she studied criminal justice.
To become a corrections officer, Ashley had to go through six weeks of extensive training with weapons, such as, shotguns, .38 revolver and the 223 rifle, self-defense, use of a baton and chemical agents, such as pepper spray. She also receives annual update training in CPR and first-aid.
Ashley admits that not anyone can work at a prison.
“It takes a certain personality to work here,” said Stuewe. “You have to maintain a professional manner at all times, but you have to be able to joke and laugh, or this place will get to you. You need to have an outlet.”
For Ashley and husband Sean, their outlet is getting outside and walking their dogs, hunting, and of course, enjoying time together as a family.
Ashley said that safety and security is a corrections officer top priority and to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. She conducts room searches and pat downs of inmates.
When dealing with inmates Stuewe said, “you have to be aware that things can go wrong, but you have to keep a positive outlook, and have trust and confidence in your co-workers.”
Terry Petrie, NCF public information officer, added, that the corrections officers are “somewhat responsible for each other and they have each others backs.”
Ashley said her job has a variety of responsibilities and she gets to interact with a lot of people.
“You get to do a lot of different things. I like to talk to the inmates and hopefully we can get them on the right path,” said Stuewe.
She said it’s important to treat the inmates with respect because, “their punishment is being here (in prison) and away from their families. They don’t need to be treated as less human,” said Stuewe.
For Ashley, this is the beginning of a long career in corrections. She said her next goal is to make sergeant and continue to build on what she’s done so far, by becoming a better officer, and then become a supervisor.
“You have to always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared, so working in a prison can make you a little nervous at times, but I’m happy because I do what I enjoy. It makes you feel good knowing you’re helping people and you’ve done a good job.”
Photo Credit: Mike Stephens/Norton Telegram