Skip to content

As part of its 2021-22 Theme Year on Rebuilding,
MUSE presents

Chris Wilson on The Master Plan

Thursday, April 14, 2022

12:00 PM

University of Utah Alumni House
155 S. Central Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT  84112


Register here for free tickets! 






wilson event poster

As a teenager, Wilson was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Now, he is a successful entrepreneur, storyteller, artist, and social justice advocate.

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Wilson was surrounded by violence and despair. Watching his family shattered by trauma, his neighborhood beset by drugs, his friends dying one by one, he feared for his life — and took to carrying a gun. One night when he was 17, Chris was cornered by two men. He shot toward one of them, killing him. A year later, at 18, he was sentenced to life in prison, with no hope of parole.

While behind bars, Chris embarked on a remarkable journey of self-improvement. At the age of 20, he wrote a list of things he intended to accomplish or acquire; he called it his Master Plan. He revised it regularly and followed it religiously. He graduated from each vocational shop in the prison, earned his high school diploma and an Associates of Arts degree in Sociology, and taught himself to speak and write in several foreign languages. He became a mentor to other inmates and started a career center, a book club and even a business. And, in his 30s, Chris Wilson did the impossible: he convinced a judge to reduce his sentence. He came out, six years later, determined to teach others the selflessness, work ethic and professional skills that led to his second chance. Today, Chris is a speaker, advocate and social entrepreneur who employs citizens returning from prison — a hand up for those who, before him, were too often crushed by our unforgiving parole and release system.


Registration Information


Register here for free tickets! 




Pick up a free copy of Chris Wilson's book,
The Master Plan

wilson book cover

MUSE is providing copies of The Master Plan to U students and other members of the university community.

To pick up your free copy,
visit us at the MUSE office
in the Sill Center
(195 Central Campus Drive).


For classroom-set inquiries or to participate in a book discussion group, send an email to


Critical acclaim for The Master Plan

"The Master Plan is less of a roadmap and more of a philosophy that we should all take to heart: we are all better than our worst decision, our sense of justice should honor the redemptive possibilities inherent in every person, and our destinies are truly intertwined.”—Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore

“An incredibly moving book that will change the way you look at the criminal justice system.”—Senator Bernie Sanders

“Uplifting...Wilson candidly shares the eye-opening details of his time in prison with a prose style that moves with directness and refreshingly unfettered honesty...A smoothly written memoir steeped in positive reinforcement and hope for the future.”—
Kirkus Reviews

“Truly inspiring...Wilson engagingly tells his riveting story while also exposing corrupt justice practices...Highly recommended [for] anyone who loves an uplifting life story.”—Booklist

“Wilson’s voice comes through loud and clear in this memoir that should have wide appeal.”—Library Journal

“This is a brave book, full of thought-provoking insight on criminal justice, the modern prison system, and the possibility of redemption. And yet what sticks with me most is the beautiful, heartbreaking mother-son relationship....Thank you, Chris Wilson, for taking us into the cave, so that we can better understand the light.”—Beth Macy, bestselling author of 
Dopesick and Factory Man

“I’ve admired Chris Wilson’s work with the underprivileged and returning citizens for the last three years, but as this book proves, you don’t really know a man until you understand his struggle. Do not miss this story of redemption, empowerment and giving back. It can change your life.”—Van Jones, TV show host and author of Beyond the Messy Truth

“A brutally confessional indictment of mass incarceration in America.”—Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Parting the Waters

The Master Plan adds a personal narrative to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, making it equally important. Chris Wilson is our generation’s go-to voice on mass incarnation and redemption. Not only does he brilliantly articulate his struggle, he offers a clear path to what needs to be done if we truly want reform. The difference between Wilson and other scholars is that he doesn’t only talk about the ills of the system––he’s survived that system and changed his life, and now spends his time helping other people do the same. This book will change the world.”—D Watkins, bestselling author of The Beast Side and The Cook Up

“A bright light in a moment of moral darkness. Chris Wilson’s story is both a triumph and a call to arms on behalf of the incarcerated.”—Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO of BRAVA Investments and author of Leapfrog


Q&A Submission

Do you have a question for Chris Wilson?
Enter it below for a chance to have it read during the event.

Limit one question per submission. Questions must be submitted by April 8.

(This form no longer exists)

Last Updated: 11/3/22