A Question Of Freedom By Dwayne Betts

Great Essays
Mashal Zahid
Common reading essay question #4

A Question of Freedom written by Dwayne Betts is a compelling memoir revolving around how a foolish mistake Betts made during his adolescence changed the course of his life forever. Within the matter of a few minutes, this young man who was a honor student went through with an act which was completely out of his character, and proceeded to commit 6 felonies with his friend. The time Betts faced behind bars made him see the struggles of black men with his own eyes, and by sharing with us, the audience, of the struggles of the other individuals Betts met in prison, he really opened our eyes into seeing the workings of our so called justice system. Stories are told for a variety of reasons. Perhaps
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At the mere age of 15 ( a year younger then Betts was when he committed his crime), Terrence Johnson and his brother (who was 17) broke into a laundromat coin box. “ She didn’t tell me what he was locked up for, that he’d rocked the Prince George’s County community the night he shot and killed two police officers. He and his brother had been picked up for suspicion of breaking into a Laundromat coin box… It was 1978 and the PG police were rumored to beat people down and ask questions later. Terrence insisted that the police beat him down, and that he reached for an officer’s gun in desperation…”( Betts page 19). From hearing this story, it shows just how unjust our legal system is. Trained, armed police officers choose violence before voicing their questions. How when they saw the color of Johnson and his brother’s skin, they automatically assumed that they were dangerous. The theme of the book that this relates to is: What does power have to do with fairness and justice? This is the question that prevails throughout this memoir. For instance, Betts was charged as an adult even though he was only 16 years of age. He was charged for …show more content…
Even after Betts teacher, who helped him get his high school diploma in jail before he was sent off to prison, stated that Betts was college bound, the judge did not rethink his decision. The reasoning behind the decision was because of how blacks were looked upon in society. “After I was sentenced, time was all I thought about. I was sixteen and headed to prison for nine years…”(Betts page 81). Going back to the theme: What does power have to do with fairness and justice? Only the powerful can enforce fairness and justice, which in this case was the judge. He had the power to look at what a bright young man he was, how he was a honor student heading to college, and how this felony he committed was a mistake because he had no proper father figure in his life. A society in which people have different levels of power causes achieving justice to be a great difficult task, as the more powerful will continue to exploit the weaker. Meaning, that the color of Betts skin imposed a weakness because of how society worked back then. Going back to the story of Terrence Johnson, by seeing how after getting out of jail, Johnson went on to law

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