I have now been out of prison for over one year and it’s been pretty great. I had set some goals for myself and I have accomplished them. I’ve met a lot of great folks. I’ve been able to help a number of other people. And, after waiting almost a year like I said I would, I have started dating. I’ve eaten a ton of amazing food and have managed not to gain a bunch of weight. I even flew a plane! Thanks, Dwight and Cindy. Life is good.

I felt like this year was free, because my original parole date was Jan. 29, 2019, but I got out early from time cuts.

In my last housing unit, there was this prisoner nicknamed Rock. His prison handle was a combination of his impressive physique and his wit — heck of a nice guy though. He could have gone home 4 months early had he earned his high school diploma; he simply needed to complete 4 credit hours to graduate and receive a time cut. He didn’t even try.

You would probably think that every prisoner would do whatever they could to leave early, but you’d be wrong. Many prisoners just choose the path of least resistance. Most time cuts being handed out to Utah prisoners are for completing drug programs, but I am convinced if prisoners were not forced to participate in the HOPE program, the vast majority would opt out — even with a 4 month time cut dangling in front of them. The program is a complete sham, but I’m not going to delve into that, as I have written extensively about it before.

Had I been given the decision on whether or not to do the HOPE program, it would have been close. There were myriad reasons why I sought time cuts, but the driving factor for me was thinking I owed it to my son to do everything I could to get home sooner. So that’s what I did. I’m very happy with what I’ve done with this “free” year. I feel ahead in many aspects of my life.

I imagine if an outside party were to assess my situation, they might not come to the same satisfied conclusion. I still live with my parents. I only have supervised visitation with my son. I recently seriously injured my hand and am scheduled for surgery on Monday, and I do not have health insurance. Sure, there are some things that are not optimal, but they don’t bother me. I point to them because they are things that might have bothered me in the past.

I received something from this whole prison experience that is invaluable: my perspective. I don’t sweat the little stuff, but I take great pleasure in the simple things. A setback like a serious injury is inconvenient, but not upsetting. The worst part is probably having to seriously cut back on my caloric intake on account of no longer being able to play basketball five times a week. That’s small picture stuff and just part of life. Big picture, this perspective makes the good moments great. I remember watching fireworks with my son and thinking this is what life is all about. That same moment might have easily been taken for granted without my prison experience.

I have some new goals for this next year; but most importantly, I hope this time next year that perspective is still with me.

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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