"Reading literature and poetry throughout my nearly nine years in prison played an enormous role in shaping the person I am today," says Reginald Dwayne Betters, founder and CEO of Freedom Reads. Along with the National Book Foundation and Center for Justice Innovation, it has launched the Inside literary prize, the first major US book award to be judged exclusively by incarcerated people. A jury of 300 people serving sentences across six states will judge the works of four national book award winners and finalists chosen by incarcerated readers, writers and librarians -- Tess Gunty, Jamil Jan Kochai, Roger Reeves and Imani Perry. The winner will be announced in June 2024. France introduced a similar book prize last year which was judged by a panel of 500 incarcerated people from 31 facilities nationwide.

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