A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (2020)

A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison Reginald Dwayne Betts A Question of Freedom A Memoir of Learning Survival and Coming of Age in Prison A powerful debut memoir from a published poet and emerging writer 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
  • Title: A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison
  • Author: Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • ISBN: 9781583333488
  • Page: 297
  • Format: Hardcover
A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison Reginald Dwayne Betts A powerful debut memoir from a published poet and emerging writer 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 anA powerful debut memoir from a published poet and emerging writer 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.
A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison Reginald Dwayne Betts

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    Published :2020-01-04T22:25:37+00:00

One thought on “A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison

  1. William

    This is a different kind of prison memoir Literary, lyrical and philosophical R Dwayne Betts was an above average student in the lower middle class close in Washington D.C suburb of Suitland Md Somehow one day he thought it would be a good idea to go over to Virginia and carjack a sleeping white man He really never explains exactly why he did it other than the impulsiveness of youth Betts was 16 years old and carried a gun in the commission of this crime Betts doesn t concentrate of the crime no [...]

  2. Fr. Ted

    I was intrigued about the author after hearing an interview with him on NPR I visit inmates on a regular basis as a pastor, and found something compelling in his interview I was not as enchanted with the book I would say it shows moments of his being a poet, and a word smith, but I found myself thinking the book needed to be edited better tightened and shortened He jumps around in time in a manner that can be confusing, and sometimes a chapter or a story seem to have no point to them He does exp [...]

  3. Kim

    Based on journals kept while in prison, this is a powerful chronicle of eight years in prison, beginning at the age of 16 In Betts s words, This book is a confession of what it was like to be in prison It is about hoping that there can be moments when people who have scarred themselves, their families and society can be given the space to redeem themselves It is the story of the thirty minutes it took for me to shatter my life into the memory of one cell after another, and the cost of walking a [...]

  4. Zoe

    Betts s account of his eight years in prison seems to fade in and out, topics and characters are fleeting violence, education lack thereof , race relations, religion, family The narrative is loosely held together by chronology, but the lack of clear structure is probably the most accurate representation of his years behind bars.Although I was frustrated by some smaller issues passive sentences galore in the first few chapters gave a rough start , I felt like it was a worthwhile read overall and [...]

  5. Stephen Selbst

    A powerful memoir by a black man who, at age 16, in a terrible moment, carjacked a man and in the process, committed six felonies Treated as an adult offender, he spends nine years in the Virginia prison system Fortunately for him, he learns from his crimes and incarceration, and survives.

  6. Patricia

    I recently heard an interview with this author on NPR and was inspired to read this 2009 memoir of his years in prison He is a beautiful and perceptive writer and I was alternately horrified, inspired, and saddened at his story He has now published several books of poetry and is a student at Yale Law School He was able to take a bad mistake and somehow learn and grow from it in very harsh circumstances I hope to read by him in the future.

  7. Meredith

    What I wanted was a personal, in depth look at the problems with the juvenile court prison system What I got was a self entitled, almost whiney complaint about how he did something wrong and got punished for it I got halfway then skipped to the end but still didn t find much redeeming in it An important topic, but terrible writing.

  8. Connor McDonald

    A sincere narrative that elicits an emotional desire for further reform of our juvenile and criminal justice systems Betts s account of the eight and a half years he spent in prison for carjacking depicts the dead time, the obstacle, and ultimately the nightmare that the American prison system creates for the self rehabilitation and self redemption of incarcerees specifically in regards to our troubled youth.By the age of eighteen, he writes I d been shuffled between a county jail, a prison inta [...]

  9. Devin Vanderpool

    Everyone should read this book In particular, anyone who has anything to do with the judicial system should read this book This is the story of an intelligent young man who spent many of his formative years for a felony he admitted to committing And if you don t think he is intelligent, he fought for the right to take the bar exam to become a lawyer and now has a Ph.D from Yale Law school This book will make you uncomfortable That s good for you It sure made me uncomfortable But it made me think [...]

  10. Edmund Davis-Quinn

    I really do want to finish this but ended up reading a lot of other stuff while it was checked out Up to Chapter 10, page 62 We need to do so much better with our criminal justice system.

  11. Scot

    This is a familiar cautionary tale R Dwayne Betts, a young man of color from the Maryland suburbs of DC, ends up in prison and struggles to survive, with his commitment to reading and ongoing intellectual curiosity being the crucial factors that combine with luck to get him through the ordeal and out of the system, leaving many others less fortunate behind in that sad and terrible place One of the benefits of the book is its newness this is a version of the story for 21st century youth, this you [...]

  12. Katie Vogelpohl

    Powerful and poignant I would recommend this book to any of my students, and to any interested in the rights of incarcerated persons.

  13. Jennifer Collins

    More an informal collection of recollections than memoir, this work reads something like a selection of blog entries related to reading and prison, only the very beginning and the very ending standing out as clearly ordered As such, this comes across as too half hazard an attempt at broaching questions related to youth in prison and the justice system, falling far short of the clear subtitle for the work A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison.The biggest problem I had in rea [...]

  14. Cheryl Durham

    I set a goal to not only read a particular number of books but to deviate from what I normally read Because of my degree in Criminal Justice and adjunct teaching coupled with all the news as it relates to protesting, Ferguson, Chicago and other issues dominating the news, I chose this read I couldn t have made a better choice.This reading was informative, touching and inspirational I always ask the students What is the goal of the criminal justice system Is it to detain for wrongdoings and keep [...]

  15. Gregory

    From weeksnotice 2010 R Dwayne Betts A Question of Freedom A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison 2009 is a compelling and often poetic he is in fact a published poet memoir of a very young African American man who was put in prison for carjacking in Virginia in the mid 1990s He was 16 at the time and served nine years.It is a scattered book, and it moves back and forth chronologically He plead guilty, was guilty, but dances around it The old head wanted to blame it on rap m [...]

  16. Ruth

    I came upon Dwayne s poetry at his recent reading at the Poetry Foundation Since I m very concerned about the massive imprisonment of young black males in our day, I was glad to know of his advocacy work Campaign for Juvenile Justice to pick up his memoir as well as his poetry collection.The story in the first chapters is quite hard to follow because it s not chronological I like flashbacks, but I didn t think the cutting back forth served this story well to my mind it s a creative nonfiction te [...]

  17. Sarah

    This is such a beautifully written, thought provoking book Betts makes you think hard about so many profound truths relating to our criminal justice system why we throw unfathomably long prison sentences at children and adults , what it really means to be good or bad and whether people in prison are really either of these things, how felons are often regular hard working people who happened to make really bad mistakes who hasn t , why we would expect anyone who goes to prison to come out reforme [...]

  18. Angie Crew

    I like the idea of this book and the stories behind this bookI did not feel that the stories were completely delved into and that the ideas were just consistantly repeated I am a teacher and this book should be a great read for my students.but if I got bored, I wonder if they will too Now, I was not always bored I plan to read some selections that stood out to me in class and see if I can get that connection with my students Maybe they will love the book and I just missed somethingBUT, I got to [...]

  19. David Pierce

    It takes a lot of character to write with such honesty But, don t read it without digesting the epilogue What a story this is The power of books really change your worldview The prison system did not reform Dwayne but books They helped him who he was intended to be I have spent twenty years volunteering my time in the prison setting That was what drew me to the book I was rewarded with a great insight to the incarcerated mind I wish I could communicate some encouragement to this author Perhaps h [...]

  20. Jill

    This is an important memoir for those who think juvenile justice is justice at all I have to quote a few lines towards the end of this young person s journey a person that judges me by who I am and not what I did judge me by my character and not my past judge me by who I have become, and not by a moment of insanity Isn t that what we all wish for No one is making excuses for this youngster s behavior, least of all him, and for that I admire the author very much He apparently has gotten on with h [...]

  21. Robyn

    My Mom heard about this book on NPR and thought that given the population of people I work with and my interests that I d enjoy this.Sadly, it was a true disappointment.First of all, while Betts story is compelling, his writing is not Many times it falls short of what it could be Secondly, there were tons of times where I was reading and saying to myself And why do I care about that Better editing could have made a better story here.Betts should be commended for turning his life around from a mi [...]

  22. Geniece

    I read this book with my teens at the juvenile detention center This book was a great book to read in this setting since the focus of Betts memoir is redemption and making positive life choices after making some mistakes It was interesting to discuss this book with the incarcerated teens and see how some of them LOVED the book because they could see themselves within the pages and it made them feel like they were not alone Others struggled with the book for the same reasoney saw themselves in Be [...]

  23. Karen

    This is one of these books that I say people should read, becuase we should all know realistically what life inside jail and prison is like I appreciate that the main point of the book was simply to bare witness It s only a few pages at the end that tell where the author is now and what his accomplishments have been He says this book isn t a redemption story, and the book is true to that For serioius readers, the writing might be a point of contention, but I think it s as much editing as it is t [...]

  24. Yusrah

    In the first 7 chapters, I was amazed by the struggles that Betts was experiencing His arrogance shortly led to self awareness that adventually made him a Wiser man I didnt agree with the attempt charges And also how he viewed opinion of power in the first few chapters Also i was relieved when he had role models to depend on in prison and protect him beacause i was afraid to read what he might have experienced as a minor in a adult high sercuirty prison I am excited to read the rest of the book

  25. Sarah

    i read this book in curiosity of how a inmate changes while incarcerated i was hoping to see a real insight to the life and hardships of being locked up i was disappointed this book is full of repetitive ideas and nothing about the learning, survival and coming of age in prison like promised he goes into little detail nor vague stories of his daily life i assumed the book would make me cry and would somehow touch me in a way i would have sympathy but after reading this book i felt nothing, just [...]

  26. Hannah Major

    The best way I d describe this book is eh It didnt capture my attention and I found it really dull Yes its nice that he found ways to live But honestly I wouldnt recommend this book to anyone because I got bored after 100 pages This entire book was about him trying to accept and understand what he did and why I only finished this book because I have finished every book I ve ever started, except Summer land The only reason I enjoyed the book in the slightest is because it took place in Fairfax co [...]

  27. Cassandra Corrigan

    The summer before my senior year in high school I was tasked with reading this book and writing a short essay on my thoughts rergarding it My prize for winning was the opportunity to meet and dine with R Dwayne Betts at the local college who sponsored the contest Not only is this book powerful and thought provoking, but the author is genuinely sincere about his experiences and how he learned from them both on paper and in real life This book will make you take a long, hard look about your life, [...]

  28. Emily

    I m not sure what to say about this book It s a series of essays, roughly chronological, of periods and aspects of his 9 years in prison He doesn t put much narrative structure into it, and I m unwilling to do it for him here He impressed a few issues on me, though, including race race , passing time years of memories consisting of only those walls , and the philosophy of our justice system punish or rehabilitate Oh, and that he witnessed a brutality from which he ll never recover.

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