Study Guide

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Setting

By Shaka Senghor


Michigan, 1980s-2010s

Shaka's old neighborhood is one of the nicer ones in the city of Detroit…at least until crack becomes a huge problem. What Shaka calls "the crack epidemic" (5.69) wreaks havoc in the city and creates a lot of the problems Shaka describes in the book.

When Shaka gets incarcerated, he moves into the Michigan prison system. Shaka's experience of them suggests that the prison system is a brutal, eat-or-be-eaten world wherever you experience it. Some prisons have nicer buildings and more privileges, and some are really old and depressing.

But either way, the system is brutal…even if things like neatly trimmed lawns makes people forget it temporarily.

Those two settings are part of the backdrop to this memoir, but so is the hope Shaka feels when he's released and working to help his community. Like he tells the people from the Media Lab and IDEO, there's a huge amount of promise and potential in Detroit, and a lot of people working hard to make their city better.

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