Designed Conviction a Social Enterprise

We need more Chris Wilsons: The answer to the prison reform battle

The first time I heard about Chris Wilson was back in 2019 when he was a guest on The Daily Show, and he talked about his book: The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose. The thing that stuck out to me was that he was a man who had overcome adversity, and there is no more adversity than to be stuck in prison serving a life without parole sentence.

He was 17 years old, yes, this story sounds remarkably familiar. Rough childhood, lack of model figure, and plenty of mitigating factors lands a juvenile in prison, serving the rest of their life in prison.

He is an extraordinary exception; he was able to get out after serving only 16 years. Yes, you heard it right. He was lucky, and he acknowledges that in his book.

Fast forward, March 2021. I am taking a flight down to Baltimore to meet him while listening to the last chapters of his book. It is a very inspirational, eye opening, and melancholic book. I was smiling when he was released. I cried when one of his friends got “time-served” ruling, and I am still melancholically thinking of the other good men who he considers his family that he left behind. Not by choice.

Cecilia and Chris Wilson at his home in Baltimore, picture taken on March 2021.

I felt very honored when I was received at his home and witnessed all that he has accomplished out of his “bucket list”. He is a man of his word. He is still working for his community, changing lives. During our interview we spoke about diverse topics related with prison reform, such as mitigating factors, and the lack of parole opportunities.

We need more Chris Wilsons, we need more Chris Wilsons, that thought lingers on my mind. After witnessing great bills that would bring relief to many families affected by incarceration being shut down at the legislative floor, I wonder if we are picking the right fight. This is a question for you, should mass incarceration across this country be addressed as a human rights catastrophe?

Send me your thoughts and I may publish it in our next issue.

Until next time. Cecilia, Wife of a Lifer