Book Reveiw 8-13
Monday, July 20, 2009

LANSING,MI -- Published poet and emerging writer, R. Dwayne Betts, will be discussing his powerful debut memoir at Everybody Reads at 2019 E. Michigan Avenue on Thursday, August 20 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

At the age of sixteen, R. Dwayne Betts—a good student from a lower-middle-class family—carjacked a man with a friend. He had never held a gun before, but within a matter of minutes he had committed six felonies. In Virginia, carjacking is a "certifiable" offense, meaning that Dwayne would be treated as an adult under state law. A bright young kid, weighing only 126 pounds—not enough to fill out a medium T-shirt—he served his eight-year sentence as part of the adult population in some of the worst prisons in the state.

A Question of Freedom is a coming-of-age story, with the unique twist that it takes place in prison. Utterly alone—and with the growing realization that he really is not going home any time soon—Dwayne confronts profound questions about violence, freedom, crime, race, and the justice system. Above all, A Question of Freedom is about a quest for identity—one that guarantees Dwayne's survival in a hostile environment and that incorporates an understanding of how his own past led to the moment of his crime.

Less than five years since his release, Dwayne is now an accomplished and award winning poet as well as a vital and influential juvenile justice activist. Dwayne is a national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice and a highly sought after speaker on behalf of juvenile justice reform.

Mr. Betts graduated from community college with honors and received a full academic scholarship to the University of Maryland where he was recently given the honor of addressing his fellow graduates at this year’s commencement. As he writes in his memoir, “there are people who are willing to judge me by who I have become, and not by my moment of insanity.”

R. Dwayne Betts is currently a graduate student at Warren Wilson College, where he has been awarded the Holden Fellowship. Shortly after his release from prison, The Washington Post published a feature article about him and a book club he founded for at-risk young men called YoungMenRead. He teaches poetry at several public schools in the D.C. metro area, has had his poetry published in many national literary journals, and contributed an essay to the anthology It's All Love.

The book is featured on Dwayne's web site at

He speaks at Congressional Briefings and participates on panels and discussions with a number of organizations such as: the American Bar Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Juvenile Justice Network, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the National Association of Counties, and the Annie Casey Foundation.


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