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Behind Bars: The political concerns (or lack of) for some of Utah’s inmates

By Brian Wood, Behind Bars Columnist - | Feb 6, 2017

I’ve been told religion, politics and college sports are the three most divisive topics. I’ve already made it known that I’m a BYU fan, so I guess it’s about time I mention the recent presidential election.

I considered trying to keep my opinion out and just give observations, but I figured it might bleed through, regardless. Also, I admit, I would rather people knew my opinion than assume the opposite.

So for the record, I don’t claim a party, but I usually lean to the right on most issues but not all. My only strong opinion on the election was I disliked Clinton more. I really don’t have enough access to data to make an informed decision, though I’m realizing as I get older, good information is not what most people base their decisions on anyway.

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On the subject of the presidential elections a buddy of mine said, “Thank goodness I can’t vote because none of what happens next is going to be on me.”

Most of the people I correspond with on the outside, who mentioned the election, were also disappointed with both candidates. I have received sentiments from readers on both sides of the spectrum. One person wrote me saying, “Our guy won, time to drain the swamp!” and another person said she cried the night of the election and is “ashamed to be an American.”

During the election, I heard a lot of rhetoric against Hillary, but this mostly came from the guards. I’ve heard the word “Trumptastic” from more than one officer. Another told anyone and everyone that he and his friends stayed up and partied into the early morning after the election and repeatedly fired their guns into the air in celebration (talk about nailing a stereotype).

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As for the prisoners, it seems that most have a Laissez-faire attitude about politics in general. But when I do find those with an opinion, it’s a mixed bag just like the outside world.

Some of the reasons prisoners like a particular candidate are the same ones political pundits used against them. For example, Trump’s lack of political correctness and his general irreverence or Hillary’s dishonesty and alleged criminal behavior (especially because she is getting away with it), were the same reasons some prisoners were for one or against the other.

There was one group of prisoners that seemed to be overwhelmingly for Trump, and it wasn’t the white supremacists, as some would assume. Most of the illegal immigrants I have heard an opinion from hope Trump will get them deported faster and therefore out of prison sooner, so they are optimistic.

I would have thought prisoners who have a lot of time to serve would be for Hillary because she had at least, at one point, mentioned prison reform. I had always assumed felons would naturally lean to the left, but in the sampling of opinions I heard, most really don’t care.

RELATED: Behind Bars: Going to prison was the start of a new beginning


Some might want the legalization of marijuana but have few other opinions and don’t know which side that puts them on anyway.

Maybe it’s because they have “bigger” (more personal) problems to worry about, or they don’t believe it will affect them, or they know they have no control in the outcome. Whatever the reason, the most-voiced merriment about the election results from inmates was about no longer having so much news coverage and primetime TV devoted to politics.

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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