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Ohio correctional officer juggles full life with challenging career.

Theresa Ann Hicks, a corrections officer at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, juggles a full-time career with college studies and a busy family life.

Hicks, an 11-year corrections veteran, works in the facility's control center, where she monitors the alarm systems, video surveillance, perimeter and emergency computers, and all communications traffic. Hicks also is a certified trainer in firearms and communications skills.

For her years of outstanding performance, Hicks was named Ohio's 1992 Correctional Officer of the Year. "I'm really honored," she says. "There are a lot of other good people who could've won this award."

Hicks spends most of her off-duty time with her family. The younger of her two daughters was seriously injured three years ago in an auto accident and now is a quadriplegic requiring around-the-clock care. Hicks and her husband, Clyde--who also is an officer at the prison--are forced to spend much of their spare time coordinating insurance forms and claims to ensure that their daughter has the care and medical supplies she needs.

Hicks also is pursuing a bachelor's degree in social work at Urbana University through a continuing education program the prison offers for staff. She hopes to graduate in three or four years, but says she wants to stay in custody corrections.

"What the degree offers is helpful in many areas, not just in a non-security setting," Hicks says. "I can apply it to my work and even in my personal life."

Hicks says her friends sometimes marvel at her busy schedule. "People say to me, 'I don't know how you do it,'" she says. "But you don't realize what you're capable of until you need to do it. You do what you have to do."

Hicks has been involved in several incidents at the facility in which her training, quick action and common sense prevented inmates from injuring themselves and staff members. Several years ago, a disturbed inmate set fire to her mattress, causing rolling clouds of toxic smoke to engulf the nursery area housing newborn infants. Hicks and an inmate assigned to the nursery removed the infants from harm. Seventeen staff members were treated for smoke inhalation after the fire was extinguished.

Despite the stress of the job, Hicks says she enjoys corrections. "It grows on you after a while," she says. "Even though, like every job, it has its ups and downs, I feel a sense of accomplishment because I'm working with people."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Best in the Business; Theresa Ann Hicks of the Ohio Reformatory for Women
Author:Spertzel, Jody K.
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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