Prison reform advocate shares writings with CSUB

Ana Dominguez, Staff Writer

Reginald Dwayne Betts by Ana Dominguez

Dr. Michael Dean Burroughs, Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield, Invited Reginald Dwayne Betts African, who is an African American poet, legal scholar, educator, and prison reform advocate to perform at the 17th annual Kegley Institute of Ethics Fall lecture: A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival.

 Betts read three of his magnificent literary works A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, And Coming of Age in Prison, Bastards of the Reagan Eraand What We Know of Horse. Betts was incarcerated at age 16 and sentenced as an adult for 9 years in prison. His poems reflect his experience and sentiments during his incarceration years. Betts is an example that being incarcerated does not define him as a person. He is a model of inspiration, perseverance, and hope for people that has been or is imprisoned. Second changes are possible for everyone, especially for those who seek redemption. Bets explained, “how books saved his life in prison and how black authors influenced his decision of becoming a writer and writing his memoir even though he was too young to write one at age 46 and did not have had finished college.” 

Dr. Michael Dean Burroughs and Reginald Dwayne Betts by Ana Dominguez

Life can be though; however, Betts found a way to express his feelings and captivate the audiences with his literary work. Despite the fact that at the beginning of his career, he was not a graduate student, he had the need to let the world know what was in his head, mind and soul. “When I was a junior and undergrad, I do not know why I had something to say to the world about my experience, but I did. Seeing people still read this book after many years, is rewarding.” Beets said. Opportunities come in your life and you need to take them. Prepare yourself the person you want to be.  “The only reason that I did not get back to prison was because I gave myself what every student college gets which is a college education and a set of robust opportunities to become something in the world that I wanted to be” Betts expressed.   

 Betts continues to give inspiration to those who had overcome the American prison system and who had suffered the depravation of their freedom. He is an inspiration to all of us who need an advocate against adversity.