The Project: Former criminal and convicted murderer turns his life around with doctorate and new book

A former drug addict and convicted murderer now goes by the title doctor and has released a book titled 'How to Escape from Prison'.

As a teenager, Paul Woods was a criminal who was convicted of murdering his drug dealer after he attempted to sexually assault Woods. Woods served 11 years in prison for the crime. 

That could have been the end of the road - but Woods chose a different path. He completed his tertiary education from behind bars, achieving a Bachelors and a Masters in psychology. And now, he has the professional title 'Dr Paul Woods' after finishing his doctorate.

Since his release in 2006, Woods has finished his education, met and married his wife and had two children.

Woods is now working to help others defy the odds. His book, How to Escape from Prison, aims to help other former criminals get their lives back on track.

"What really imprisons us is our thoughts and beliefs about the world, and that's the prison you want to try and get out of." He said this idea sparked the title of his book.

Woods said he experienced a "real journey of real change and growth" through "small incremental progress".

"We like to create this narrative for ourselves where we 'see the light' and that's it. But my story was about these small nudges in the right direction and consistent steps along the way over a long time, which took me to different destination.

"I think it feels overwhelming a lot of the time to try and create big change for yourself...focus on the small things that take you a long way over time."

Woods says who he is today "is not defined by my previous actions".

"Who I am as a person is something that I can remould and alter through my current behaviour today," he said.

Woods said there were times in prison when he questioned the possibility of ever being accepted back into society. He said he struggled to find a point of reference in his journey towards becoming a "positive, contributing member of society".

"I want to be that point of reference."

And as for being an academic doctor...what would have teenage Paul thought of that title?

"He would probably be breaking into my car right about now."