How one Utah man went from convicted felon to BYU law school graduate

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  • owesley Mapleton, UT
    May 2, 2018 8:51 a.m.

    This is an incredible and moving story. A great read!

    But troublesome too.

    I’ve seen in my experiences that our culture preaches a wonderful sermon about change being available to all. Our culture preaches sermons of reaching our hearts and hands out to those who are down, in trouble, anguished, ridden with bad choices and then lifting them up. And what I have seen so many times is that the person behind the hand of fellowship and ministering still views the downtrodden, sin filled soul as the same down and out character. We preach of second chances, but always keep close to the vest the stigma of the previous life’s behavior.

    Despite the warm smiles and the heartfelt embraces, acceptance of the changed behavior is only “skin deep”. This story, if the Utah Bar extends the license to Ben to practice the Law, will prove there is hope that some in our culture can look at the previously downtrodden soul actually as a new and changed one.

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    May 2, 2018 12:01 a.m.

    He mentions "drugs and selfishness" and being "devoid of empathy." This is the most devastating feature of drug users. This is the facet of drug addiction that overrides maternal instinct to protect her baby with her own life, and choose the drugs instead. It's why drug addicts can cheat, rob and even murder their fellow human beings.

    It would seem from this story, the recipe for breaking the cycle is to isolate the addict from the drugs and find a way for them to find the reward or "high" in serving their fellow human beings.

  • Mowgli54 Granite Bay, CA
    April 30, 2018 12:53 p.m.

    I love this story.

    The way I see it, either we as a church believe in the principle of repentance or we don't. Either we believe a person through the help of our Savior can pull him or herself up out of mud, shame, tragedy, addiction, abuse, crime, ignominy, etc. or not. Like many brethren and sisters who lead us will say, the issue is not whether you fall, but rather whether you get up, no matter how hard it may be, and learn a tough lesson in the process.

    Turns out, we do believe you can shake off the negative of past mistakes, even severe negatives. We do believe repentance is a true principle, and through it a person can change, all the way from his or her core to the ends of the hair on the head. Good luck to this gentleman and may he be the inspiration for others to follow.

  • Forgiveness is the Answer St George, UT
    April 30, 2018 8:57 a.m.

    Changes in someone's life direction comes because something or someone sparked a ray of hope in that person. So many lives are lost to discouragement, a lack of hope, being labeled, and the hurdles society places in someone's way. "Second" chances (let alone third) are hard to come by once you're a Federal Felon, destroying all hope. A person can't live without hope. Senators Hatch and Lee, both sitting on the Judiciary Committee, should do whatever it takes to change this. With AG Sessions policy of seeking the maximum charges possible for offenders, only a legislative solution is possible. Being "tough on crime" and a "law and order" candidate is good. But once someone has paid their debt to society, and has exhibited genuine change for a period, they deserve to have their public slate wiped clean and given a clean, fresh chance in society with all opportunities and hope restored to them.

  • WallE Walla Walla, WA
    April 29, 2018 6:17 p.m.

    Awesome work on Ben's part and many others to see beyond the "norm". His counsel as a public defender should provide a unique prospective to those he serves, offering a life change.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    April 27, 2018 11:56 p.m.

    Our society needs more lawyers like it needs more parasitic disease.

  • Jr5678 Provo, UT
    April 27, 2018 5:47 p.m.

    So inspirational!! Amazing man. We need more examples like this. Hopefully he well set a good example to those he is representing. And wish him best of luck with Utah Bar exam’

  • Manzanita , 00
    April 27, 2018 2:07 p.m.

    Many congratulations to Mr. Aldana, as well as to those along the way who saw more in him than the poor choices he had made.

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    April 27, 2018 12:41 p.m.

    What a beautiful story of redemption. It reminds of the sons of Mosiah. If Ben can get his attorneyship, he could help wayward lawbreakers in ways maybe no one else could; his past would become a great asset then. Prayers for you, Ben, that the miracles will continue for you!

  • Jazzer-in-Alaska Soldotna, AK
    April 27, 2018 12:24 p.m.

    I have stories about the slipping into the life of crime. I grew up in Las Vegas, and if it were not for some good individuals, it would have easy for me to be there too. My father spent more than half of his 39 years of life in prison. My younger bother spent 17 months is prison for committing an armed robbery he didn't do. The person that did the crime, finally confessed, and my brother was released. It still dictated his life choices, and another life was lost to crime. At his death I began to realize how lucky I was. I was lucky, as a young man I was shipped off to be raised by others. I did not get caught up in that life, due to some very good people, not of my family, who believed in me. One of the most important parts of this story is the opportunity to help others. This is why I stayed away, and this is why this graduate will stay away. Best of luck to him, and his efforts will pave a road for others.

  • EightOhOne St. George, UT
    April 27, 2018 12:01 p.m.

    I saw this guy speak at the Substance Abuse Conference at UVU last month. Very inspiring!!

  • CBPapa Cedar Hills, UT
    April 27, 2018 11:54 a.m.

    Great story!
    Best of luck to Aldana and his future endeavors!

  • Vincent R. Chandler, AZ
    April 27, 2018 11:41 a.m.

    I am so proud of this man!!!! My own story shares similarities with his. It is so rare that a person can make that change. Man I'm proud of him

  • gee-en Salt Lake City, UT
    April 27, 2018 11:31 a.m.

    Great story! This is exactly how the entire process should work when someone goes astray...but it takes all sides of the process to want that kind of success for it to work.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    April 27, 2018 11:17 a.m.

    I wonder how he's going to be admitted to the Utah Bar as a federal felon? Currently, federal felonies cannot be expunged (wiped clean) short of a presidential pardon. This is because Congress has never funded the process. Perhaps this young man's success will motivate Congress to do their job in funding the process so reformed felons can get a new lease on life. Or, he will have to get a presidential pardon, or the Utah Bar will have to make a huge exception to their licensing requirements.