Poet, esquire, and ex-con, are all monikers that Reginald Dwayne Betts wears interchangeably. Esquire, the most recent title, wasn’t easily obtained. Although two decades have passed since Betts was convicted of a felony at the age of 16, the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee flagged the application of the poet and Yale Law School graduate for an investigation into his “moral character,” the New Haven Register reports.
Betts passed the state bar exam in February. Most states don’t prevent applicants with prior felony convictions from practicing law, the Register reports. However, Betts’ application was flagged for further investigation of “clear and convincing evidence” of his “good moral character and/or fitness to practice law.” Letters attesting to the latter flooded the Connecticut Bar Exam Committee, and on September 29th, Betts’ application was approved.
This is just one of many hills Betts has been made to climb since he was tried as an adult for a carjacking he committed when he was a teenager. A univerHoward rescinded his full scholarship offer when he admitted to his prior convictions. Betts, a Suitland, Maryland native, went on to graduate from the University of Maryland. He then accepted a fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies before studying law at Yale.
Along the way, Betts published two books of poetry and one memoir about his plight called A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, which won the 2010 NAACP Image Award. Betts plans to become a law professor and is currently working on his doctorate. About the bar’s decision, Betts said, “”I’m happy that they made that decision. I’m just grateful for the huge amount of support people gave me.”