Reginald Dwayne Betts transformed himself from a sixteen-year old kid sentenced to nine years in prison to a critically acclaimed writer and graduate of the Yale Law School. Between his work in public defense, his years of advocacy, and Betts’s own experiences as a teenager in maximum security prisons uniquely position him to speak to the failures of the current criminal justice system and present encouraging ideas for change.
Named a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2018 NEA Fellow, Betts poetry has been long praised. His writing has generated national attention and earned him a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and New America Fellowship.
Betts often gives talks about his own experience, detailing his trek from incarceration to Yale Law School and the role that grit, perseverance and literature played in his success. In addition, he has given lectures on topics ranging from mass incarceration to contemporary poetry and the intersection of literature and advocacy.