Study Guide

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

By Shaka Senghor

Violence

Most people agree that violence is a problem. But in Writing My Wrongs, it's not a problem that's just standing on its own. It's wrapped up with other social problems, including personal and institutional racism, drugs, and families breaking apart.

Lots of these problems are just as bad in prison as they are in the tougher sections of America's cities—when people are sent to jail to try to correct the problems, they sometimes get even more tangled up in them. Seems like solving violence might have to include solving a lot of other things too.

Questions About Violence

  1. What causes Shaka to turn to violence as a young man? What might have prevented it? Do your answers to either of those questions suggest any paths forward for American society?
  2. How are racism and violence related in Writing My Wrongs?
  3. Based on Shaka's ideas, what might be some ways of decreasing violence in America? Which of his ideas for decreasing violence do you think are the strongest?

Chew on This

Society often views acts of violence as a sign that a person can never change. In Writing My Wrongs, Shaka suggests that violent people actually can change.

Much of the violence Shaka describes could have been avoided if society put more effort into solving other problems like drug addiction.