BD 010418 Brian Wood 02

Brian Wood, Behind Bars columnist, on Jan. 4, 2018. Brian was released from prison on Jan. 2, 2018.

I have a hearing on Wednesday. I am appealing the decision by the state of Utah to deny me an automobile sales license. Specifically, the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division (MVED) of the Utah State Tax Commission says I can’t acquire a license while on parole. I wonder how decisions like this are made.

I can’t imagine requiring a license to sell cars is anything but a way to make money. It’s not like a license to practice medicine or law, where there’s credentials to check and public safety at risk. I figure to validate a reason for the license the state had to pick someone to deny. Excluding felons completely would likely cut into the candidate pool too much, so they limited it to parolees. Obviously I don’t know anything about the how or why, I was just thinking out loud. It’s bothersome though.

Parolees are an easy target. Who wants to fight for rights of people who, at some earlier point, voluntarily forfeited them? I know there are going to be challenges and it’s my responsibility to succeed not matter what they are. If not getting a sales license is the greatest of them, I will count myself lucky.

Beyond Bars: Doing everything I can to stay on track while on parole

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

I met a guy the other day with tattoos on his face. He was at Murdock Chevrolet buying a brand new truck. He asked me if I were in the Army because of a patch on my jacket. I responded, “No, I just recently came from the same place you did at some point.” I could tell the tattoos had been done in prison. We quickly struck up a conversation.

His name is Kenneth Passey and he had been incarcerated 18 years between federal and state prison. Kenny’s drug addiction led him to a similar path as myself – possession, fraud, and burglary. He did 10 years in the feds for a 10 gram possession — an amount less than what I would frequently transport from Salt Lake City to my house, which would only last me a couple days for personal use. At some point in there he decided he was done and he was going to succeed no matter what. He had to go the half-way house route, take buses everywhere, and work menial low-paying jobs for some time. He had nothing but his attitude going for him and everything working against him.

Kenny is now an owner/operator of a semi-truck and makes six figures, but even more important he is happy. It was really good for me to hear he has not lost his perspective. He is very thankful for what he has now.

I have no real concerns about whether or not I’m going to “make it,” but meeting Kenny puts my obstacles in perspective. I hear my chances of winning this appeal are slim. It’s hard to change a hard and fast rule. If they make an exception, they have to make more. I want to try and be an agent for positive changes. I’ve been told, “You’ve made your bed, now you must lie in it.” I agree this is my own doing; but still, I prefer to stand.

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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