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Paul Wood was convicted of murder and imprisoned at age eighteen spending the next eleven years in Mt Crawford, Paremoremo, and Rimutaka prisons.
He has recorded these years in a recently released book How to Escape From Prison, a harrowing read of a young man’s journey with drug addiction and violence before his escape from his “mental prison’ enabled him to complete a degree while still in prison.
A mental prison Wood explains is a ‘set of distorted or misguided beliefs that condition our view of ourselves and the choices available to us, that prevent us from seeing clearly what we might achieve if we chose to live freely.’
Growing up in Wellington, Wood progressed from fighting with his brothers and dropping out of school, as well as becoming caught up in the drug scene before killing his drug dealer with a baseball bat, three days after the death of his mother.
How to Escape from Prison records Paul’s life behind bars and the people he meet inside who encouraged his road to redemption and the completion of a masters degree in psychology. He commenced further study for a doctorate while in prison completing this on his release and graduating on 2011.
The writing style is simple and easy to follow although the graphic detailing of the drug taking and prison life is at times overwhelming and I felt enormous relief as Paul Woods found his pathway to freedom through study. He said, “Once I discovered reading, I began to read voraciously”, and throughout the book he has included many quotations from books which assisted in his rehabilitation. His Five Steps to Freedom outlined in part two of the book include good advice and strategies to help people escape their mental prisons, and he has also shared “a list of things that assist in the development and exercise of self-control” which he calls “Willpower 101”.
Paul Wood lives in Wellington and is a motivational speaker and leadership and personal development specialist. He contributes regularly to the media and works with charities that focus on helping young men avoid prison or reintegrate on release. How to Escape from Prison is an inspiring read and valuable resource for anyone needing help to fulfil their potential and turn their dreams into reality.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
How To Escape from Prison
by Dr Paul Wood
Published by HarperCollins