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R. Dwayne Betts  

Poet, Author, Memoirist, Teacher

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a husband and father of two sons. As a poet, essayist and national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. In April 2012, President Obama appointed Betts to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 2011 Betts was awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship to Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies.

The author of the memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison and the collection of poetry, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, Betts’ work possesses a careful, complicated and often difficult-to-confront intimacy that challenges conventional ideas about crime, masculinity and redemption. In 2010 he was awarded an NAACP Image Award for A Question of Freedom, and a Soros Justice Fellowship to complete The Circumference of a Prison, a work of nonfiction exploring the criminal justice system’s role in the every day lives of Americans who have not committed crimes. He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland.

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Speech Topics

A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison

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