When They See Us: What really happened to Korey Wise in prison?

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When They See Us became a huge hint when it landed on Netflix in May 2019. The series looked at the real-life cast of the Central Park Five, which followed a group of teens of colour who were falsely convicted of the assault and rape of a female jogger in New York City in 1989. The men were eventually exonerated but not before Antron McCray (played by Caleel Harris/Jovan Adepo), Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk/Justin Cunningham), Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse/Chris Chalk) and Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez/Freddy Miyares) has served time in juvenile detention and in the case of Wise, adult prison.

However, Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome) ended up doing 12 years in an adult prison due to being 16 at the time of the trial. Wise served time for a crime he didn’t commit before he was eventually exonerated.

During his time in prison, he met fellow prisoner Matias Reyes who eventually confessed to committing the crime for which Wise had been wrongfully convicted.

Police investigated the case and found a DNA match to Reyes leading Wise and the other four men to finally get justice.


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What really happened to Korey Wise in prison?

When They See Us depicted Wise met with violence and abuse in prison both from fellow prisoners and the guards, who turned a blind eye to any attacks on him.

The series showed how Wise chose to go into solitary confinement for protection and self-preservation.

According to the TV series, Wise spent a great deal of time in solitary to avoid the wrath of his fellow inmates.

He also seemed to make friends with a prison guard called Roberts (Logan Marshall-Green), who tried to look out for him.

Roberts also seemed to turn up in another prison Wise had been transferred to later on in the show.

Wise kept putting in transfers to move to institutes closer to his family in New York but sadly each time he seemed to move further away.


He spent a good deal of time at Rikers Island as he served as his time. But how much of this portrayal was real?

The real-life Wise has not spoken much about his incarceration but has hailed director and creator DuVernay for her work on the series.

He did say, however, in the Central Park Five documentary made by Ken Burns: “You can forgive, but you won’t forget.

“You won’t forget what you lost. No money could bring that time back. No money could bring the life that was missing or the time that was taken away.”


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“He probably should’ve died in there but he learned how to get by and hustle and make friends and maintain his innocence,” the show’s editor Spencer Avarice told Indiewire.

Avarice continued: “And it seems impossible that, first of all, he would get into a fight with the guy [Matias Reyes] who actually committed the rape, and then run into him later down the line.

“It’s incredible. If he had only gone in for five years, we probably wouldn’t have discovered the truth.”

Avarice’s words suggest Wise did have a tough and possibly violent time behind bars.

When They See Us is available to watch on Netflix

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