In 2018, Darryl Woods had exhausted all possibilities through the courts of being released from prison. He had argued since 1990 that his conviction was based upon fraudulent testimony.
His future depended on a request placed in front of the then governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, on Darryl’s behalf.
“I had a life sentence, and by the stroke of a pen and the grace of God, I was given an opportunity to walk out of prison doors,” he told Detroit News in 2019.
Darryl has used every waking moment since his sentence was commuted to make the most of this second chance. He is deeply engaged in reentry programs in southeast Michigan, and he sits on county-level and statewide boards that address issues related to incarceration and substance abuse.
Darryl’s hard work behind bars prepared him for his life of service today. He grew his leadership skills by leading his prison’s NAACP chapter, and he immersed himself in Bible study. Over the years, the support of Crossroads mentors helped him grow in his faith and get through the devastating losses of his mother and grandmother and several failed appeals.
“In those moments, to know that someone was praying for me made a difference. Their letters offered different Scriptures that let me know I wasn’t forgotten,” he said.
Darryl also worked hard to be a better father. He is grateful to have a warm relationship with his children and grandchildren today.
“My son was one [year old] when I went in. He was thirty when I got out,” Darryl said. “He was the one who came to retrieve me when I was released. My son yearned for his father all those years. When he came to get me, he wept like that one-year-old baby when we met.”
Every mentor has undoubtedly wondered about past students. Did they continue to grow in faith? Did Crossroads make a difference? This series features the stories of former students who affirm that Crossroads helped them turn their lives around. Many, like Darryl, are free and using their time and talents to serve incarcerated individuals and returning citizens.
If you are a former student, we would love to add your story to our growing collection. Please mail us a letter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.