The Marshall Project

I Taught Myself How to Read in Prison. Then I Sued the System and Won

“Just like the rest of life, everything about the court system is a puzzle I’ve had to piece together.”

I entered prison at 15, lost and illiterate. A lot of the guys I knew were too ashamed to admit that they didn’t know how to read, but I wasn’t. I taught myself how. I would take a novel and look up every word that stumped me. My first year in prison, I read the same book, “The Last Don,” over and over for about nine months.

Life Inside Perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system. Related Stories

All of that work learning how to read helped me when I went back to school while in prison. It’s also helped me become a successful “jailhouse lawyer” representing myself in court. Over the years, I’ve won hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state,

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