During his visit to the UA on Aug. 30-31, Betts, a poet, memoirist, and the national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, will be the keynote speaker of a symposium on “Building the Prison-to-Higher-Education Pipeline,” give a poetry reading, meet with students, and visit a local prison.
The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is proud to be a sponsor and organizer of Reginald Dwayne Betts’ visit to the UA campus on Aug. 30-31, 2017. American Friends Service Committee of Arizona is also a lead sponsor of the visit.
During his time at the UA, Betts will be the keynote speaker at the symposium, Building the Prison-to-Higher-Education Pipeline. The symposium, held on Aug. 30 at 6:15 p.m. , includes a discussion with students who have been justice system-involved on the barriers they have faced in accessing higher education in prison and beyond.
This symposium – which is open to university administrators, faculty, staff, and select groups of students – will encourage attendees to think critically about the University’s current policies and practices, from admissions to the classroom. Furthermore, it will encourage them to reflect upon the concrete ways they can improve both the lived experiences of students who have been system-involved and the educational and professional opportunities available to them during and after incarceration. A limited number of regular tickets are available on our Eventbrite page. An overflow room will also be available (tickets required), and the event will be live streamed on our YouTube page. The event is free.
Betts has written two collections of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era (winner of the 2016 PEN New England Award for Poetry) and Shahid Reads His Own Palm. In his NAACP Image Award-winning memoir, A Question of Freedom, Betts chronicles his nine years of incarceration after being sentenced as an adult at age 16 and the shadow that conviction casts upon one's life and future. (Indeed, Betts has recently been in the news because he was denied entry into the Connecticut bar while they assess if he is of “good moral character,” despite his accomplishments.) Betts writes and lectures frequently about the impact of mass incarceration on American society, advocating for juvenile justice and prison reform. Betts earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2016 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Law at Yale University.
On Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at the UA Poetry Center, Betts will give a public poetry reading, followed by a short Q&A.
During Betts’ stay in Tucson, he will also have lunch with a group of UA students involved in the UA Prison Education Project and visit two units at a local prison.
The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is excited to provide this opportunity to reflect on how the University of Arizona can provide educational opportunities to system-involved people, both during and after incarceration. Over the past year, the college’s Department of English has expanded the Prison Education Project, thanks to a donation from Barbara Martinsons. Developments include training graduate students and faculty to help with prison writing workshops, offering an undergraduate course on prison writing, and piloting a reading course for incarcerated veterans.
Betts’ visit is made possible by partnerships with the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, Barbara Martinsons, UA College of Education, YWCA of Southern Arizona, UA Department of English, UA James E. Rogers College of Law, UA Honors College, and UA Poetry Center.