I met some terrible people in prison and I also met some really good people. I remain in contact with three of the men who would fall into that latter category. Two of them I see and talk to all the time, but the other lives in Nevada with his wife and kids, so we see each other less. All of us are on parole.

I reached out to the buddy in Nevada a little while back and couldn’t get a hold of him. I asked our other friend if he had heard from, let’s call him Mike. He said he left Mike a message and that was it. I just recently found out what had happened to Mike.

Mike was reading in bed when there was a knock at the door. The police were at Mike’s home, in force, and there to arrest Mike and take him to the local jail. They did not tell him what he was being arrested for other than he had violated parole. That was the only explanation he received, even while he sat in jail for weeks. He and his family had no idea why he was there or how long he would be there.

While he was there he was fired from his job and lost his work vehicle and cell phone that had been provided by his employer. He was let out of county jail after three weeks because Utah had not come to claim him. I don’t know how long it took him, but he was able to find out what had happened.

His parole officer had done a routine check of his DMV record and found an inconsistency. There were two vehicles in their records registered to a different address than Mike’s that were attached to his driver’s license number. His parole officer had called Utah and told them about the inconsistency; at which time, Utah told Nevada to lock him up.

It turns out it was all just a clerical error. I couldn’t tell you when or if the authorities dug deep enough (made any effort) to discover the vehicles were registered while Mike was incarcerated. They might have known five minutes after he was arrested and done nothing, or they might not have known and just didn’t follow through. I’m sure some officers get excited about getting all their buddies together and gearing up to go arrest a felon; the paperwork side of the job is a little less glamorous and probably more of an afterthought.

Sure, that part is speculation, but the fact that you do not have to break any rules to get locked up on parole is not. It took almost three months, but Mike finally got his apology. I saw it with my own eyes, it read: According to the records in this department the issue has been resolved and is now registered and titled to the correct owner. And that’s about par for the course.

A parolee and an inmate are the same in the eyes of the Department of Corrections, with the only real difference being the housing unit listed. I understand parole is considered a privilege, but I don’t think the spirit of the law is being followed. Instead of parole being a way to let those ready to enter society, get that chance early, it is used as a way to keep people in the system after they have served a reasonable sentence.

I recently watched an interview where Salt Lake’s DA, Sim Gill stated over 3/4ths of parolees who are sent back to prison are sent back on techs, or technicalities. This is where the parolee does not do anything illegal, but breaks some rule, of which there are many.

My parole experience has been good. I have been treated very well by my parole officer. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I cannot promise I will not go back to prison. This isn’t because I am going to break any rule, it’s because I have a very healthy mistrust of the system. As long as I’m on parole, I’m in harm’s way.

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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