Kim Woodson is a civil-rights advocate, legal scholar, public speaker and directly impacted organizer working to end mass incarceration and expand opportunity for people upon release from jail and prison. After being sentenced to life in prison at just 17 years of age, Woodson took her first step on the road to redemption after the Supreme Court ruled juveniles serving a life sentence should have their sentences reviewed.
She believes in the power of second chances and through lived experience Woodson has gained a passion for Criminal Justice advocacy and speaks publicly about her experiences. Over time, Woodson transformed from a disenchanted teenager into a mother purpose-driven adult—able to find herself, even within the confines of a prison. She excelled academically, grew spiritually, and dreamed of someday being free. Woodson earned her associate’s degree in applied arts and sciences, and her bachelor’s degree in behavioral science.
Woodson is one of two female juvenile lifers who were released in Michigan in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana (10 more remain incarcerated). In May 2017, Woodson was released after serving 29 years and vowed to do all she could to help save others from making the same mistakes she’d made decades prior. She was determined to do something positive with the rest of her life and since founded Redeeming Kimberly in 2019. — a nonprofit dedicated to assisting returning citizens transition from prison life to society, and helping those who were previously incarcerated navigate the many challenges of re-entry: securing housing, food, clothing, and jobs. “I was able to get directed on a different path,” Woodson said. “I came to terms with the fact that maybe one day I will die (in prison). But I get to choose my life and I get to choose who I want to be and how I get to enjoy my life.”
It’s been nearly nine years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v Alabama that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional, making nearly 2000 juvenile lifers eligible for resentencing and for parole. In that time Woodson joined Michigan Liberation as a fellow in August 2019, and has since served as a leading voice advocating for the resentencing of juvenile lifers in Michigan. In 2020, Woodson played an integral role in Michigan Liberation’s Prosecutor campaign to reform Michigan’s Criminal Legal System and helped to elect Oakland County Prosecutor, Karen McDonald. She was promoted to Canvas Team Manager, responsible for managing a team upwards of 88 employees.
Woodson now serves as campaign organizer for Michigan Liberation and is the mother to a 2-year-old, Jai’Marie, her miracle baby born in 2018.