U.S. NEWS
11/26/2018 05:46 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2018

Earlonne Woods, Co-Host Of Ear Hustle Podcast, Has Sentence Commuted

California Gov. Jerry Brown is releasing Woods from San Quentin State Prison after two decades behind bars.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has commuted the prison sentence of Earlonne Woods, whose hit podcast Ear Hustle explores life inside San Quentin State Prison.

Woods is expected to be released on parole in the coming days, after serving 21 years of a 31-years-to-life sentence. Woods was involved in an attempted robbery in 1997, when he was in his 20s. He is now 47.

“After 21 years in prison, Governor Brown ― the great governor of California ― decided that I served enough time,” Woods said in the latest episode of Ear Hustle. “He commuted my sentence to be released forthwith, immediately, right now, it’s time to go, time to walk out that gate,” he added, laughing.

Woods learned of his commutation the day before Thanksgiving.

“It’s out of body,” he said of getting the call from Brown’s office. “I’m thinking about my mama, she’s 70. She’s holding on. Just to be … out there with her.”

Ear Hustle ― co-hosted by Woods and Nigel Poor, an artist and volunteer at San Quentin ― interviews men in the prison about their lives there. It focuses on both the personal and the political, shedding light on issues of mass incarceration and the criminal justice system by telling intimate, humanizing stories, like the tale of one inmate’s obsession with keeping small critters as pets in his cell or another’s struggle to be intimate with his wife while behind bars.

Since the podcast’s launch in 2017, it’s been downloaded millions of times, featured in media outlets from NPR to The New York Times, and made several “best of” podcast rankings.  

HuffPost visited Woods at San Quentin earlier this year to discuss why he created the podcast. 

“What we did was humanize [prisoners], just by telling their stories,” Woods said in February. “Once you commit your crime, people think that’s what it is, but individuals change. They don’t stay the same people that they were when they committed their crime. They grow up ― literally.”  

In Brown’s letter announcing the commutation, the governor echoed that thought, saying Woods “has clearly shown that he is no longer the man he was when he committed this crime.”  

“He has set a positive example,” Brown wrote. “Through his podcast, [Woods] has shared meaningful stories from those inside prison.”

Even after Woods is out on parole in Oakland, California, Ear Hustle said that it will continue, with Poor telling more tales from those inside San Quentin and Woods talking about the journey to re-enter society after years behind bars. The podcast team announced Tuesday that it will hire Woods as an employee on the show. 

When asked earlier this year what was the first thing he would do if he got out, Woods said, “Take a bath. I’ve been taking showers for like 20 years.” 

This piece has been updated with news of Woods’ hiring onto the podcast team. 

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