I know what freedom is because I've lost my own freedom through a stupid mistake I made 15 years ago. I was jailed and paid the price for my crime. Or I thought I did. Today, all these years later, I am finding out why there is so much recidivism in our criminal "justice" system. It's impossible to get out of the so-called "justice" system's grip.

When faced with the prospect of working for $7-$10 an hour for the rest of your life or going back to slinging drugs, stealing cars or other criminal acts that can pay off at a much higher rate, it's not hard to imagine why so many criminals can't stand to push a broom or dig a ditch for the rest of their lives. Your criminal history is nearly impossible to expunge and even harder to explain when you're looking for employment.

I write this with the realization that I probably will not get the job I've been trying for now for more than three weeks because Provo's 4th District Court could not supply me with a piece of paper that proves I was released from probation nearly 10 years ago. This after two weeks of calling and waiting on hold, sometimes after being greeted by rude clerks and other bureaucratic busybodies whose only concern is whether I know the right phraseology and have the correct "authorization" for whatever hoop they control and want me to jump through.

Aaron Turpen

Pine Bluffs, Wyo.