Part of the answer is in the title, Cecilia Conley is the wife of a lifer. That is, she is married to a man serving life without parole in prison. You may ask yourself “Why? Why would you marry someone in prison?” The answer of course is love.
But it’s not just love that brings together her and her husband. It is what they have created together that is aimed to help others.
Five years ago she was relaxing and watching documentaries about crimes and the criminal mind. She had a curiosity about why people did what they did. She had learned that you could write prisoners and become pen pals via email. She was curious enough to get to know someone in prison, she wasn’t looking for anything more.
She stumbled across a profile that caught her eye, a man her age that was an artist serving life in prison for the crime of aggravated murder.
Convicted at a young age, Taylor didn’t have a decent legal representation.
After getting to know him and reading all his legal documents it was easy to point out all the faults that were unfair to his trial. She stands by her husband and feels in her heart that he was wronged and is serving life unjustly.
There are other factors that should be taken into consideration before sentencing not only her husband but other youths to such long or life sentences. Scientific studies have been done that prove a person is still considered an adolescent under the age of 25. Proving that anyone under that age has a higher rate to make more impulsive and rash decisions.
At this point, Taylor had been in prison for almost 10 years when she met him. He recognized that he was making poor decisions that led him to prison and that he deserved to serve time but not his entire life. He wasn’t the same person he was when he was brought there. He was no longer a child and had matured turning his life into a mission of self-improvement and expressing himself through art.
They were married a year after they met and Cecilia has no regrets, is able to make it work between the two of them through phone calls, video visits, and in-person overnight family visits where they get to rent movies, eat homemade food, and spend time as husband and wife.
Now five years later, they are busy working hard in the social enterprise, they created together called Designed Conviction.
Cecilia has become a passionate advocate to help other people that are incarcerated. Together they want to show the world that people who are in prison are trying to change themselves and should not be defined by the mistakes they have made.
They are talented people who deserve to be a part of our society. The main part of Designed Conviction is the two magazine publications they produce. Inside Designed Conviction, the Magazine goes out to those incarcerated. They are encouraged to send in their artwork and writing. Outside Designed Conviction, the Magazine goes out to the public and shows them the artwork and writing. As well as other articles about incarcerated or ex incarcerated people who are doing well for themselves. The magazine is encouraging and it inspires people to want to advocate for those voices that are locked up behind bars.
Cecilia and her husband didn’t stop there. They produce a podcast together called Life of a Lifer which interviews incarcerated and ex incarcerated people to showcase the changes they have made and talk about their success. As well as other prison reform advocates and what programs they are doing to help people in prison.
They also are making music. Taylor is a talented writer and his lyrics have been turned into amazing songs that tell a story. Designed Conviction partnered with independent music artist Seth Anthony and they released the Free Taylor EP. Featuring Seth Anthony, Burden, and the famous Bubba Sparxxx.
While being married to a man serving life in prison isn’t conventional, it sure isn’t boring. Together they are changing the narrative of incarceration and making a difference in the lives of others.
Also don’t forget to check out their podcast www.lifeofalifer.com
Check out this video where she describes in person what it is to be the Wife of a Lifer.