Prison was a central pillar of communism and an experience shared by generations of eastern Europeans. The USA today can also be described as a carceral society, its prison system the expression of a ‘new Jim Crow’. What does the comparison mean for the definition of the ‘political prisoner’? A conversation.
Reginald Dwayne Betts
2021 MacArthur Fellow and Founder and Director of Freedom Reads, an organization that builds libraries in prisons in America. His latest collection of poems, Felon, was named winner of the American Book Award and a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. He has written two previous collections of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era and Shahid Reads His Own Palm and a memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison.