Reginald Dwayne Betts is an American poet, memoirist, and teacher. He is author of A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (Penguin/Avery, 2009), and Shahid Reads His Own Palm (Alice James Books, forthcoming 2010), winner of the 2010 Beatrice Hawley Award. His poems have been published in literary journals and magazines including Ploughshares,  Crab Orchard Review and Poet Lore.
According The Washington Post, Betts was an excellent student who veered off-course in high school, and landed himself in more trouble than he had ever imagined. He was sixteen years old and an honors student and class treasurer at Suitland High School, when he and a friend carjacked a man who had fallen asleep in his car. Betts was charged as an adult and spent more than eight years in prison, where he completed high school and began reading and writing poetry. After his release from prison, he found a job working at Karibu Books in Bowie, Maryland, where he was eventually promoted to store manager and founded a book club for African American boys, while attending Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland.
Since then, his honors include a Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference scholarship and the Holden Fellowship to attend the M.F.A. program at Warren Wilson College. He is a Cave Canem Workshop fellow, and was a full scholarship student at the University of Maryland, where he earned his B.A. He currently teaches poetry with the DC Creative Writing Workshop at Hart Middle School. According to USA Today, he is also the national spokesman for the Campaign for Youth Justice, and speaks out for juvenile-justice reform. He also visits detention centers and inner-city schools, and talks to at-risk young people.