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A Question of Freedom : From Felon To Lawyer

A Question of Freedom : From Felon To Lawyer

Reginald Dwayne Betts refuses to let his time in prison define his life. But he admits that he can’t escape it. Even with an Ivy League education.

After passing the bar exam in February, The committee flagged Betts’ file because of his three felony convictions for a carjacking he committed in Virginia two decades ago as a teenager.

A felony conviction creates a presumption that the applicant lacks “good moral character and/or fitness to practice law.” Such applicants must prove otherwise by “clear and convincing evidence.”

Like most states, Connecticut does not prohibit felons from becoming attorneys, but Betts’ supporters flooded the committee with letters supporting his admission to the bar.

“I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a lawyer,” he said. “I did it because I didn’t want to be in another situation where I didn’t know the answers to questions that affected my life.”

Along the way, he has written two poetry books that received good reviews from media critics. A third book, “A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison,” won a 2010 NAACP Image Award. He is now married with two children and lives in New Haven.

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