What I’m Reading: “A Question of Freedom” by award winning author R. Dwayne Betts

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At the young age of 16, R. Dwayne Betts (link to bio)– an honor student – attempted a carjacking in Virginia with a friend. Despite the fact that he had never held a gun before that day, he was arrested, charged as an adult, and sentences to nine years in prison.

Dwayne was determined not to become another “statistic” and decided to shape his life into something he could be proud of. Dwayne spent his incarcerated years reading, writing, teaching himself Spanish, working as an educational aide, a librarian, a law clerk, and a GED tutor. He read books and wrote poems constantly. Dwayne confronted profound questions about violence, freedom, crime, race, and the American justice system. Five years after his release from prison, he wrote an eye-opening memoir about his situation, “A Question of Freedom,” which received the 2010 NAACP Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author in hardcover.

A QUESTION OF FREEDOM was released on paperback on May 4, 2010, at a time where the issue of sentencing children as adults could not be more prevalent – Jordon Brown, a 12 year-old boy, is the youngest murder defendant to be tried as an adult. In A QUESTION OF FREEDOM Dwayne gives readers an illuminating and harrowing look into the life of a kid growing up in an adult prison. His story is absolutely essential for a society that is ready to close the door on a child’s life, he is a proven fact that people can change…you cannot just write someone off a statistic. After getting out of prison, Dwayne graduated from a community college with honors and received a full academic scholarship to the University of Maryland.

A QUESTION OF FREEDOM is a memoir, political statement, social commentary, and work of art rolled into one book. Dwayne’s message of hope “that there can be more moments when people have scarred themselves, their families and society can be given the space to redeem themselves, even if others before them have failed when given the same opportunity.” Redeem himself he has.

(source: Avery/Penguin Publishing)

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