Shakespeare Saved my Life by Laura Bates


shakes This title is a memoir by Laura Bates, the subtitle being “Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard.” Bates is a Shakespeare professor at the state university in Indiana, who created the first-ever Shakespeare program in a solitary confinement unit for the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Her work with the inmates is amazing, considering they were all not only in a maximum- security prison, but in solitary as well, since they were judged to be especially violent. One inmate who she eventually grew close to, Larry Newton, had been convicted of murder, but as his story unfolds, there are many details that come to light. One in particular is the fact that Larry’s mother convinced him to avoid the death penalty by signing away any chance for parole. He was only 17 at the time, not even an adult. Another is that he was an accomplice to the real murderer, but in Indiana, an accomplice receives the same sentence as the murderer. This memoir is a testament to the fact that criminals can be rehabilitated with the use of education. It gives a different slant to the inside workings of a prison, and causes you to examine the impact of Shakespeare’s writings.

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