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February 23, 2023 — Prison Journalism Project, a national initiative that trains incarcerated writers and those in communities affected by incarceration to be journalists and publishes their stories, has appointed Reginald Dwayne Betts to its board of advisors.

Betts is a poet, lawyer and the Founder and CEO of Freedom Reads, an initiative out of the Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory to radically transform the access to literature in prisons. For more than 20 years, he has used his poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society.

The author of a memoir and three collections of poetry, Betts has transformed his latest collection of poetry, the American Book Award-winning Felon, into a solo theater show that explores the post incarceration experience and lingering consequences of a criminal record. In 2019, Betts won the National Magazine Award in the Essays and Criticism category for his NY Times Magazine essay that chronicles his journey from prison to becoming a licensed attorney.

A 2021 MacArthur Fellow, Betts has also been awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Emerson Fellow at New America, and most recently a Civil Society Fellow at Aspen. Betts holds a J.D. from Yale Law School. His next book, Redaction, co-authored with Titus Kaphar, will be published in 2023.

Betts recently launched the nonprofit Freedom Reads to give incarcerated people access to the power of literature. Freedom Reads donates books and shelving for libraries, organizes author visits, and sets up book circles in prisons and juvenile detention facilities.

Betts will add his considerable expertise to Prison Journalism Project’s board of advisors, which comprises leading figures working across journalism, academia and the criminal legal system. The board of advisors is chaired by Bill Keller, the founding editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project.

To see PJP’s complete Board of Advisors, click here.

About Prison Journalism Project

Prison Journalism Project is a national, independent, nonpartisan initiative that trains incarcerated writers in the tools of journalism and helps them reach an outside audience via their own publication as well as through partnerships with mainstream media organizations.


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