Thomas Edison State University graduate Isaac Wright Jr. is the subject of ABC’s new drama series, ‘For Life,’ following Wright’s journey from a wrongfully convicted drug kingpin to an attorney.
Wright was given a life sentence in 1991 for a litany of drug charges, including leading a cocaine trafficking ring. He had served more than seven years in the maximum-security New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, N.J., in 1996 when the prosecutor of his case was convicted of felonies including embezzlement and abuse of power. That same year, a judge overturned Wright’s conviction, which was proved to be “based in part on an illegal seizure… and on perjured testimony,” according to The New York Times.
He had made the most of his time inside. Throughout his incarceration, he worked as a paralegal for other inmates, aiding them in their cases even when he thought he would never get out.
“The act of representing these other prisoners who were also wronged was a part of me fighting back,” Wright told Esquire. “And so all of those victories, they represented something really, really important to me.”
Wright pursued higher education after being released. He enrolled in Thomas Edison State University in 1998, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree in 2002.
“We are proud of the work that Isaac continues to do and we are honored to be a part of his journey,” University president Dr. Merodie Hancock said. “He embodies the spirit of so many other TESU graduates through his dedication to changing the world around him for the better.”
From there, Wright attended law school at St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla., graduating in 2004 before passing the bar exam the following year.
“When I got out, there was this feeling that I’m leaving thousands of people behind in that same situation, who have no help and are alone,” Wright told Blackfilm.com in a video interview. “That was the single motivating factor for me after I got out in continuing the course of my life to try to help people who are in that situation.”
Wright now uses that motivation, alongside his education, as an attorney-at-law for the Newark firm of Hunt, Hamlin and Ridley.
‘For Life’ tells a fictionalized version of Wright’s story. The show debuted on Feb. 11 and will have a 13-episode first season. The TESU alum serves as an executive producer for the series.