Earlonne Woods was sentenced to life in prison under California’s controversial ‘three-strikes’ law, for second degree robbery. While incarcerated in San Quentin, he helped created the podcast Ear Hustle, alongside volunteer Nigel Poor and inmate Antwan Williams.
Ear Hustle was the world’s first podcast to be recorded entirely inside a prison. By the end of the series third season, its 30 episodes had been downloaded over 20 million times. The title refers to a US prison slang term for eavesdropping. In November 2018, after serving over 21 years, Earlonne’s sentence was commuted by California Governor Jerry Brown, who cited his work on Ear Hustle as a contributing factor for his early release. Earlonne continues to work on the podcast from outside prison, which is currently in its seventh season.
In 2020, Ear Hustle was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Damien Linnane was offered the contract to illustrate the podcast’s official book, This is Ear Hustle, after tagging Earlonne in this image on Instagram. The book is due for release on 12 October 2021.