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Behind Bars: Perspective is everything when doing time

By Brian Wood - | Mar 28, 2016

When I was first sent to prison I remember wishing that I could just slip into a coma and wake up years later when it was time to go home.

Those first three months in prison are kind of a blur now, not because I was in shock or anything like that, but because I don’t have many unique experiences to draw upon. Every day was just about the same. I was locked down 23 hours per day, as is standard for newly arrived prisoners, in what’s called Receiving and Orientation or “R&O.”

Every morning I woke up to breakfast being served through a “cuff port” (in jail and prison, most doors have this specially fabricated opening, about 5 inches by 18 inches, which is used to send a meal through or for a prisoner to put his arms through so officers can cuff him without the offender leaving his cell).

Once a day for an hour my door would open and I could go into a larger room to walk around, take a shower and select another book or two. I read a different book about every day and a half. Besides eating, reading and spending my hour out, I’d sleep.

That was life for a bit.

I remember thinking the days would just drag by, but after the fact the time seemed short, probably because the days all melted together.

I did nothing of note and have no memories that really stand out. I believe prison, in general, is set up in a way to assist in this effect — routine is a big contributor to that. I suppose this is why inmates claim time in “max” (meaning maximum security), seems to go by faster.

For that reason there’s a portion of the prison population that prefers to do their time either locked down or doing as little as possible while sleeping as much as possible. I imagine the goal is to forget this part of their life.

I have changed my tune of wishing I could skip this whole experience. I am losing out on time I cannot recover, like time with my son, but it would be a much greater punishment if I lost this time entirely, because life does go on, even in here.

It’s true I am unable to spend my time the way I would like or with whom I would like, but I can still be productive to some extent. Even if all I was doing was practicing having a good attitude, I don’t think I’d want to forget being here. But, because I can do so much more than that — and this might sound odd — I find myself a little concerned, wondering if I have enough time to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself while in prison.

With the time cuts I anticipate receiving, I am on the downhill slope of my sentence. My experiences have given me a perspective I hope to always benefit from.

Now my days don’t drag in the least. I feel I am still accomplishing things. When I analyze the past few months, it sure feels like a whole lot has transpired, theoretically slowing down or increasing my prison experience dramatically. And you know what? That’s okay.

I have a buddy who has down twenty years that told me his nephew said, “Has it been twenty years already? That went by so fast.” He responded, “It feels like 40 years to me.”

It really is all about perspective.

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 35 years in prison, depending on parole hearings.


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