Venus Star Woods was born and raised in Alaska. Growing up, both her parents struggled with substance abuse and she spent a big part of her childhood in the foster care system. Following in her parents footsteps, Venus faced her own issues with substance use which eventually landed her in prison. After her last incarceration in 2009, she vowed to break the cycle of substance abuse and recidivism in both her family and her community.
Venus has worked in the re-entry field for over five years. She is a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor I for the State of Alaska and a certified facilitator for Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), a program designed to alter how individuals make decisions between right and wrong.. Venus has worked at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), where she helped implement that organization’s prison in-reach efforts.
Venus currently works as the Reentry Supervisor for the Cook Inlet Tribal Council. She regularly visits the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, the Goose Creek Correctional Center, and the Anchorage Jail where she connects individuals with programs and services that may be the key to helping them stay out of prison. “Reentry starts the day you go into prison,” she explains. “The day somebody starts serving their sentence is the day they need to start preparing to live their life differently.” Venus is a team member of Alaska’s first federal re-entry court; “Hope Court” and serves on the Steering Committee for the Anchorage Re-entry Coalition. Her current advocacy priority is lobbying to bring substance abuse assessments into the prisons so individuals who are released can more easily access treatment.