After decades in prison, Cyrus Wilson gets to attend college while maintaining his innocence

Posted at 5:59 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-16 07:25:48-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Cyrus Wilson may no longer be behind bars, but the shackles of being a convicted felon still have a tight grip.

The father must see a parole officer and is unable to vote or go out of the state. But as of this week, he learned he can finally go to college.

Wilson was released from prison after being granted parole in October 2019 for a murder he continued to maintain his innocence. A jury found him guilty in 1994 for the shooting death of a teenager in Edgehill, but decades later, two witnesses recanted their statements about what they saw. Wilson and his defense attorney argued there was no evidence that tied him to the crime.

Wilson left prison in November to a strong support system which included his family and American Baptist College President Dr. Forrest Harris. Since 2013, Harris taught Wilson in educational programs at prison and inspired him to think higher education.

"Higher education was definitely not something on my radar and I didn't even understand that it was even possible," Wilson told NewsChannel 5.

This week Wilson received news that through a presidential scholarship, he can attend American Baptist College and pursue behavioral studies. The opportunity to obtain a degree is not only a responsibility he takes seriously, it allows him to support his experience with academics.

"People are paying attention to me and my path. We all have an obligation, a duty and responsibility to be a productive and positive example for everybody else," Wilson added.

Even though Wilson maintains his innocence, studies from the Bureau of Justice Statistics analyzed prisoners who participate in prison education programs see a 43% reduction in recidivism rates. The higher the degree, the lower the rate.

Wilson also landed a part-time job with the Bail Fund two weeks ago to end wealth-based detention in Nashville, a position he can accompany with his college aspirations. He is also the first participant in a fellows program with ABC.