(CBS Local)– In 1991, Isaac Wright Jr. was sentenced to life in prison under New Jersey’s drug kingpin law. Wright Jr. represented himself in the Somerset County courtroom and ended up studying law while in prison. Seven years later, he fought through every legal hurdle to have his charges dismissed and today he is a lawyer at Hunt Hamlin & Ridley in New Jersey where he helps people overturn their wrongful convictions.
This incredible story inspired the creation of a new series from executive producer 50 Cent called “For Life.”
“Through this process, I’ve never really had the chance to reflect on my own pain,” said Wright Jr. in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I spent so much time fighting that I didn’t take the time to reflect on what I was actually going through. It brought back experiences that were very emotional for me. I heard no much more than I heard yes. The disappointments are huge. The biggest thing is separation from family. It’s a huge burden to carry and destructive in a lot of ways. My daughter was very young, she was five years old. She came up in a time when she needed her father. Family and disappointments were the two major emotional areas of this. I had no idea what was going to happen to me when I initially got arrested.”
The lawyer was married and had an independent record label before going to prison. Wright Jr. said he was on top of the world before his life changed forever.
“I interviewed some attorneys and they said the best I could do was 20 years,” said Wright Jr. “You plead guilty you get 20 years, you plead guilty you get 15 years. That’s the lowest time I heard and I said I’m no kingpin, I didn’t do this. I decided at that moment that I was going to prison and I wasn’t going to pay someone to send me to prison. I decided to put the gloves on, string up the boots, and get into the fight.
After years of fighting, Wright Jr. got his conviction overturned after a police officer came forward and told the truth about his innocence. Throughout this painful journey, Wright Jr. learned a lot about himself and the criminal justice system.
“There was no way that I wasn’t going to empower myself to give back. That’s the reason why I went through those two decades without giving up,” said Wright Jr. “It was an incredible feeling and a sickening feeling. I went through that system, but I’m a better part of that system. I’m going to ensure justice, where justice is shaky. I’ve been given a gift that empowers me to be able to do that.”