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Program that accepted Dewoody after prison offers prayers to Thomas family

Phillip Dewoody.jpg
Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 04, 2020

The organization that took responsibility for Phil Dewoody when he was released from prison 90 years early has issued a statement about his re-arrest.

Dewoody, 52, is currently in prison at Hunt Correctional, accused of the aggravated kidnapping of Joyce Thomas, whose body was found Monday, and of the second-degree kidnapping of an Opelousas woman. A standard condition of parole would be that he not commit another crime.

St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz told us today that Dewoody's criminal career began when he was a juvenile and included homicide.

Dewoody has a lengthy adult criminal record, and was released 91 years early by the Louisiana Parole Board last summer. He has convictions for armed robbery, aggravated escape and kidnapping, and is accused of using a homemade knife to kidnap a female prison guard during an escape from prison. At the time of his arrest following the 1993 escape, a Lincoln Parish law enforcement official alleged that Dewoody had kidnapped and raped an elderly woman while on the lam. He's never been convicted of that. He was eligible for parole despite a lengthy sentence because of a Louisiana law governing parole. You can read our story about that here.

Yesterday, we posted the audio recording of the parole board hearing that resulted in Dewoody being release from prison last summer.

During that hearing, two representatives of the Louisiana Parole Project assured the board that Dewoody would have support and assistance following release via their program, and would live at The Refinery in Opelousas. One of those representatives said he'd met with Dewoody several times, lauded his woodcarving ability and said "he's a really great guy."

We reached out to both The Refinery and Louisiana Parole Project. Here's what LPP sent us this morning:

Louisiana Parole Project is a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and transitional reentry services to persons who have served long prison sentences and meet certain established criteria.

Our sympathy and prayers are extended to the family of Ms. Joyce Thomas. A former Parole Project client, Phillip Dewoody, has been arrested in connection with the case. We stand ready to cooperate with authorities to furnish any information that will assist in the investigation.

Parole Project provided reentry support to Phillip DeWoody upon his grant of parole and release on June 28, 2019, which included temporary housing and other transitional assistance. After completing the Parole Project transition program on July 12, 2019, he remained on parole and relocated to the Refinery Mission in Opelousas.

Parole Project has served more than 100 clients. This is the only person who has completed the program to be arrested. We are heartbroken for the Thomas family. We are also saddened that one person’s actions may diminish the positive contributions of so many others living productive and law-abiding lives. Louisiana Parole Project remains committed to public safety and will continue our efforts by working with authorities, service agencies and volunteers so that people returning home have the support and tools needed to make a successful transition and become positive forces for their families and in their communities.
Louisiana Parole Project

We have questions about this statement, and we reached out to LPP for more information. We wanted to know about the length of the program Dewoody completed. This was the LPP's response:

"Louisiana Parole Project's program includes multiple phases. Phillip Dewoody completed the initial, or intensive reintegration phase, that lasts a minimum of two weeks and includes enrollment in driving school and programming such as in financial literacy and technology skills. After completion he moved to the next, step-down phase, as part of his individualized reentry plan, to intermediate- to long-term housing at The Refinery Mission in Opelousas, a faith-based living program that provides transitional services and employment support. We continued to monitor his progress and the support he was given while he was at The Refinery."