Chris Roy was born in Biloxi, MS in June 1981. He was raised by his mother in a south Mississippi trailer-hood, spending summers with his father in Maryland and Massachusetts and, later, living with him in Florida and Alabama. As the middle child of a single working mother, with no steady father figure around, he often found himself taking on the “man of the house” role. Alongside his brother, Chris was responsible for the house and yard, and caring for their little sister while their mother worked extensive hours to provide for the family.
Delinquent habits didn’t keep Chris from going to school or keeping a job. He began turning wrenches at an early age, repairing anything with wheels or an engine. Chris’ mother, Troie, encouraged her boys’ affinity for all things mechanical by bringing home old bicycles, lawnmowers and motorcycles for them to work on. As a child, he spent most of his days in the midst of Gulf Coast beaches and muddy bayous, roaming the towns and wilds of the rich and poor, but with minimal adult oversight and a lack of proper guidance, Chris developed a variety of delinquent habits – wandering without a curfew, and oftentimes finding himself in trouble. By 11 his criminal activities included selling marijuana, and at 13 he was sent to military training school for multiple counts of grand larceny and escape from a detention center. Unfortunately, he failed to learn his lesson, and was arrested again at 15 for commercial burglary. The youth court judge sentenced Chris to training school until he was 18, but upon hearing of his steady job and the demands of his family life, the judge was convinced he wasn’t a complete lost cause. She delayed transport, and reduced the sentence to house arrest.
From 1993-1999, every day that he wasn’t in school Chris worked as a mechanic at his uncle’s salvage yards. At 17, without graduating high school, Chris moved out on his own to a trailer in Vancleave, Mississippi, working full-time at a local transmission shop. He deeply regretted missing too many days his senior year, and, despite the hardship, made the unusual decision to go back and graduate – a situation he afforded by his job and his continued involvement in the local narcotics scene.
Until 1999, Chris lived comfortably with the modest criminal ventures of his youth. However, things would soon take a tragic turn for the worse. Trained in martial arts, Chris reacted instinctively to a dire situation, defending himself in a fistfight with another teenager – Dong, a drug gang leader – that resulted in his death and a life sentence for Chris. He began serving that sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections in January of 2000.
Hard knocks are the best teachers—Regrettably, Chris learned this too late as a child. As an adult, he vowed to rid his life of drugs and violence. During his 17 years of imprisonment, Chris’ institutional record has never been marred by a single fight or involvement in drugs – an incredible feat, considering the brutally challenging prison environment he lives in. General Education Development (GED), “Alcohol and Drugs”, and “Life Skills and Anger Management” are some of the programs he completed before working for the Education Department as a math tutor and projects builder.
In general population he made a name for himself as a tattoo artist, and fitness trainer. When hurricane Katrina destroyed several homes within his family, and Chris learned that his mother was reduced to living in a garage, he escaped, twice, with dreams to find work and help.
Since that time, Chris has been a High Risk prisoner for the last eleven-plus years. Living alone in the tiny cells of Parchman’s dilapidated facilities, he had become conditioned to enduring 23-24 hours a day without sunlight or socializing before an incentive program allowed him to work his way to general population privileges through good behavior. Always looking to be a positive voice for himself and those around him, Chris has been involved in prisoner advocacy and several significant lawsuits, including aiding the ACLU in the closing of Parchman’s notorious supermax, Unit 32. More recently, he wrote the initial filing for a case that awarded new freedoms for inmates on Death Row in Unit 29.
Nowadays Chris lives his life of crime vicariously, through the edgy characters and fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. Independent publishers New Pulp Press signed Chris for his novel Sharp as a Razor in late 2016. Later in the year, the small press from Key West, Florida, also picked up his Shocking Circumstances trilogy. Inspired by both the art of writing and finding his niche, Chris continued working on short fiction as well. In January, 2017, independent imprint Near to the Knuckle published Marsh Madness, Chris’ first dark fiction short story. Chris is delighted with New Pulp Press’ release of Book I of Shocking Circumstances this February, 2017. Subsequent parts will be published later in the year. The Sharp as a Razor books will be out in 2018, with future short stories also in the works.
When Chris isn’t writing, he’s reading novels of all genres, studying self-help, marketing, business, or science works. A self-taught artist, he often makes his own equipment and ink, and enjoys teaching others who aspire to develop their drawing and tattooing skills. Fitness training and boxing will always be a part of Chris’ life, a passion he has shared through training an unknown number of the men he’s been housed with. Most recently, though, it is the lure of the PR and publishing industries that have captured his attention. A true student of everything, subscribing to the “knowledge is power” school of thought, Chris’ interests and experiences will one day be far too many to list.
Until then, Chris will continue to be a vocal advocate in the movement for fair and humane treatment of prisoners nationwide; as well as the complete dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline. He remains dedicated to earning his chance at freedom.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein
Chris, at 18, with his father and stepmother in Gulfport MS taken two months before the incident.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, destroyed almost all of the photos of Chris growing up. Of the handful that remain, these few are the closest to the time-frame of his case. We showcase them here to highlight that Chris was not the monster – in physical size, or demeanor – that the prosecution painted him to be.
If you have photos of Chris between the ages of 16-20, and would be willing to let us share them on the site, please email us at: [email protected]
Chris, at 16, at his sister’s birthday party.
Chris, at 18, at his sister’s birthday party in MS taken three months before the incident.
Chris, at his 16th birthday party with family.
"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius
On Gang Affiliation
"I have had friends in here, at times, and we looked out for each other. I'm not affiliated with gangs, who offer protection and trouble for their members in equal amounts. My security depends on my reputation, on having standards and a code that others would rather follow than hate. Maintaining this reputation depends on my presence of mind." **Ue Note: Chris has remained gang-free in all 17+ years of his incarceration.
On Real Happiness
"Happiness is best felt after a trying time. After completing a difficult task, overcoming insurmountable odds. If you never challenge yourself, you will never experience real happiness. Incredibly, I've maintained a high level of life satisfaction in maximum security prison. But only because I've challenged myself, in some way, every single day."
On Finding Purpose
"I don't believe that anyone can be president or an astronaut. But I do believe everyone can excel at something; everyone, no matter where they are in life, has something they can do really well. Most just don't know it, and will never know it unless they keep trying different things. You have to search, experiment, until passion strikes. Then, and only then, will you have something that gives your life a satisfying purpose."
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