Dimetrious Woods, of Columbia, MO, served 11 years in prison for a nonviolent drug trafficking offense before a change in law resulted in his release on parole in 2017. He turned his life around, operating businesses and counseling the families and friends of others still in prison.

Earlier this year, though, the Missouri Supreme Court made a ruling on that change of law that would have sent Woods back to prison – and then, in a surprise action last month, Gov. Mike Parson granted him clemency.

Woods, 40, said that when he was called to Parson’s office, he suspected good news because he was told he didn’t need a lawyer but should bring his youngest son instead.

“But I didn’t count on it until I heard it,” Woods said. “I am delighted. I definitely didn’t think the governor would go to this dramatic of a decision while he was dealing with everything around the coronavirus.”

It was the first clemency request granted by Parson out of an estimated 3,500 awaiting action.

“This was an act of mercy for a man that had changed his life,” Parson said in a statement. “Placing him on house arrest was the right choice under these unusual circumstances.”

Woods said his sentence technically runs until 2029 and the governor used the language about house arrest because it is part of the statute. He said Parson told him he expected Woods’ life to go on as it has since he was released from prison “because I haven’t been in any trouble since then.”

Woods was charged in 2006 and sentenced in 2007 under the prior and persistent drug offenses guidelines because he’d already been convicted for one drug-related felony as a minor, reported the Columbia Missourian. That triggered a sentence of 25 years without the possibility of parole.

But the prior and persistent guidelines, which directed judges to sentence nonviolent drug offenders without a chance of parole, were repealed by changes to state law in 2014.

Working on his case in the law library at Jefferson City Correctional Center, Woods spotted the legal opening when the changes to the law went into effect in 2017 and wrote his own motion.

Since 2018, Woods has become a much larger part of his six kids’ lives and has started two businesses with one of his sons, Woods Auto Spa and Munchi’s Fish and Chicc’n food truck.

He’s also reached out to counsel school kids and inmates and their families. He said he’s appreciated the opportunity to step up, share his experience, and be a leader.

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