Beyond Bars: Hitting the ground running with a job after prison

Monday , February 05, 2018 - 5:15 AM2 comments

BRIAN WOOD, Beyond Bars columnist

A couple weeks back, I was filling out a job application for the position of Sales and Leasing Consultant at Murdock Chevrolet in Woods Cross. I stopped at the section where it asked if I had ever been convicted of a crime. The paper indicated I should write down each infraction along with a date and a brief explanation of what happened.

I stared at the few lines provided and could only chuckle. I turned to the H.R. lady who was waiting for me to finish and said, “I’m not going to be able to provide this information.”

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At first, when I told her it was because I could not begin to remember all the crimes I’ve been convicted of, much less when they occurred, I think she thought I was joking. When it was clear I was not, she told me I would have to go down to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and pay for a complete background check and bring it back. She told me to just write, “See attached page” for now.

The application was just a formality at this point. I had already been interviewed and offered the position by the owner who was fully aware of my past. Obviously the H.R. lady was not similarly apprised or she would have told me to write, “See attached pages” rather than just "page." I went down to the BCI and retrieved the background check. As I walked back to my car holding the 16-page report, I felt extremely thankful to be employed.

I hadn’t met K.O. Murdock until my first day out of prison. He had followed along with my column while I was incarcerated and when he discovered I was soon to be released, he reached out and offered me an interview. I had a couple other opportunities come my way as a result of this column, but K.O. sold me on Murdock’s culture and core values. Now, I wasn’t promised a job that first day, just an interview. But, I figured it looked pretty good when K.O. offered to get me a suit for the interview if I needed one.

My last employer was technically the Department of Corrections, and when I read its mission statement, it feels like sarcasm and not of the funny variety. At Murdock, the culture and values are exactly what they claim to be, and it’s refreshing.

Let’s face it, hiring a felon is taking a chance. The fact that K.O. is willing to take on that risk speaks volumes. It’s a great opportunity for me and I plan to reward that generosity by being a great employee.

I’m really fortunate to be able to hit the ground running; many parolees are not so lucky. It does feel like running though, as prison life occurs at a much slower pace. It’s not easy work to begin with and the hours are long. So that’s where you can find me most of the time.

Brian Wood, of Layton, pleaded guilty to nine felony charges for offenses from 2011 to 2014, including counts of burglary, drug possession and prescription fraud. He served four years in the Utah State prison system before being released on parole on Jan. 2, 2018.

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