Behind Bars: Without a job or apartment, going home is a daunting idea

Monday , October 23, 2017 - 6:00 AM

BRIAN WOOD, Behind Bars columnist

As I get closer to leaving prison I hear more and more about it from people close to me. “I bet you’re excited to go home” pretty much sums up what I hear from people on the outside looking in. I am excited, and why wouldn’t I be, right? Well, prisoners often have some different perspectives. The most common inquiry I get from other prisoners is regarding to what degree I am nervous, worried, or even scared to leave.

Also, prisoners usually don’t assume my release means I’m “going home.” I personally don’t feel like I’m “going home,” as that place is only a memory. I do, however, have a temporary place to parole, so that I’m at least not having to go to a halfway house. I’ll be on the market for my own place as soon as I figure out employment, but with Utah’s Good-landlord laws preventing felons from living in most apartment complexes, a basement apartment may be my best option.

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No doubt the task ahead is daunting. I think when I figure out what I’m going to do career-wise, most of my trepidation will be replaced with excitement. It’s not just about supporting myself; I’m wanting that sense of accomplishment and value that prison doesn’t really provide. I am also excited to start building for my future. There’s a sense of urgency knowing I’m quite a bit behind where I had expected to be at this point in life. My dad retired from the Air Force at the age of 42, while I will be just starting my career again at 36.

Many prisoners have not held jobs nor have skills to rely on, which turns their felony conviction into a longer sentence of working menial jobs. I am fortunate to have some good work experience that I believe will be of value. When I first started prescription painkillers, I was making decent money and had a promising career with a Fortune 100 company; the rest is history. I’m hoping to find something in the sales and marketing world as that’s where my experience lies, although the last job in which I would be proud to put on a resume was nearly 10 years ago, so I don’t expect to jump right back in where I left off.

My friend and mentor who visits frequently has repeatedly said, “You’re going to make someone a lot of money.” I am confident that’s true, but not knowing exactly what I will be doing comes with a degree of stress. I’m starting over in other areas too. I’ve lost everything I once owned. I don’t think I even have a change of clothes, but I believe what I’m leaving with is more valuable.

The other day I ran across a quote that explains my feelings, but I don’t think I remember it exactly. I tried looking it up on our version of an internet search – “Prison Google”, if you will, which is Microsoft Encarta 2009, and not so surprisingly, I didn’t find what I was looking for. So here’s what is probably a botched version: “Integrity cannot be taken from you; it has to be given away.”

Knowing I have something valuable that cannot be taken away does gives me more confidence.

I don’t just feel prepared for the challenge ahead; I am indeed excited for it. On the other hand, I have been humbled by this experience and know I will need help. Especially, in the immediate future. I need a landlord and employer who are willing to “take a chance” on me.

I believe I’ve learned more about life from this experience than I would have had I not been sent to prison – lessons that will hopefully enrich the rest of my life.

If you would like contact Brian, he can be reached by mail at:

Brian Wood

217764

PO Box 550

Gunnison, UT 84040

Brian Wood, formerly of Layton, is an inmate at the Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. He pleaded guilty to nine felony charges for offenses from 2011 to 2014, including counts of burglary, drug possession and prescription fraud. He could spend up to 25 years in prison, depending on parole hearings.

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