ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Earlier this year, we introduced you to a man named Earlonne Woods who got some big news yesterday. Woods is an inmate of the San Quentin State Prison in California. He was sentenced to 31 years to life for attempted robbery in 1999. He's also co-host of the podcast "Ear Hustle," which is why we had him on this program. "Ear Hustle" features stories from prison told by prisoners - their intimate, honest conversations about family visits, cellmates, solitary confinement - conversations like this one between Earlonne Woods and his co-host Nigel Poor, who's not an inmate.
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "EAR HUSTLE")
NIGEL POOR: You know, E, you've been in prison 20 years. And you have another 11 to go. So how do you keep going? What keeps your hopes up?
EARLONNE WOODS: Well, I just keep getting up every morning, you know, thankful that I have another day, thankful that I'm alive, you know? And my mindset, regardless of where I'm at, I'm going to live to the best of my ability. You know, prison, I'm going to live to the best of my ability. Look. I'm on a podcast.
SHAPIRO: Well, yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown commuted Earlonne Woods' sentence. He said Woods has clearly shown that he is no longer the man he was when he committed the crime. We called up Nigel Poor today to ask her about it, and she said that when they got the news yesterday, they were in the middle of making an episode.
POOR: So we were in the media lab working and - you know, trying to work, trying to stay concentrated. But we knew that, you know, it's traditional for the governor to do these commutations right before Thanksgiving. And the phone rang in the media lab. And I mean, we just knew that was the call. And so (laughter) it was just incredible.
SHAPIRO: Earlonne Woods had to leave the media lab to take the call.
POOR: I walked him to the gate; you know, wished him good luck. He went up there.
SHAPIRO: When you said goodbye to him, were you crying? Did you give him a hug? I mean...
POOR: No, I can't hug him.
SHAPIRO: You're not allowed?
POOR: No, we're not allowed. So I gave him, you know, a handshake with as much emotion as I could muster...
POOR: ...Appropriately. And I just said, when you come back, you're going to be almost a free man.
SHAPIRO: Nigel Poor told us that when Earlonne Woods came back...
POOR: He was walking with a lot of air in his step. You know what I mean? Like, he just seemed lighter and shiny and fresh.
SHAPIRO: What was your emotion?
POOR: You know, a kind of joy I never really experienced before - I mean, it's - you know, to be so happy for him and being in prison and not wanting to cry (laughter) - you know, trying to hold it together. But it was just - it was spectacular. And I keep thinking, like, a week from now, Earlonne and I could be having dinner outside the prison together (laughter).
SHAPIRO: Like in a restaurant, at your house, any...
POOR: Yes. Yes, he can come to my house. We can go to a restaurant. We can go to the gym and work out together. Like, all of a sudden, you know...
POOR: ...We'll be like regular colleagues.
SHAPIRO: Earlonne Woods is 47. He's been behind bars for more than 20 years. And, like a lot of inmates, he's been thinking about this moment for a long time. We know because they did a whole episode on getting parole.
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "EAR HUSTLE")
WOODS: That's something that a lot of us behind bars fantasize about - getting out and leading a normal life.
POOR: What are some of the things you think about when you fantasize about your life when you're out?
WOODS: Off the top of my head...
WOODS: ...It's unrealistic, but I think about just getting out of San Quentin, jumping in the water and swimming to my yacht and going around the world.
POOR: Nice (laughter).
SHAPIRO: That's Earlonne Woods from the podcast "Ear Hustle." His sentence was commuted yesterday. Nigel Poor assures us the podcast will continue with Earlonne contributing stories from the outside.
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.