Author Susan Burton will read from her memoir "Becoming Ms. Burton" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 7 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium, 206-386-4636.

Library events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Parking is available in the Central Library garage for $6 after 5 p.m.

Burton's world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van on their street in South Los Angeles. Consumed by grief and without access to professional help, she self-medicated -- becoming addicted first to cocaine, then crack. As a resident of South Los Angeles, an impoverished black community under siege by the war on drugs, it was but a matter of time before Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for fifteen years, and was never offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility.

Once clean, Susan dedicated her life to supporting women facing similar struggles. She began by greeting women as they took their first steps of freedom, welcoming them into her home, providing a space of safety and community. Her organization, A New Way of Life, now operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children - setting them on the track to education and employment rather than back to prison. Burton is now nationally known as an advocate for restoring basic civil and human rights to those who have served time.

"Becoming Ms. Burton" not only humanizes the harmful impact of mass incarceration, it also points the way to the kind of structural and policy changes that will offer formerly incarcerated people the possibility of a life of meaning and dignity.

Burton is a formerly-incarcerated woman who, after nearly two decades in the criminal justice system, was unable to find work, housing or adequate addiction-recovery treatment. She gained freedom and sobriety in 1997, then made it her life's work to help women in similar situations. In 2010, she was nominated as a CNN Top 10 Hero and received the Citizen Activist Award from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has been a Soros Justice Fellow and a Women's Policy Institute Fellow at the California Wellness Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles.

This event is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, author series sponsor Gary Kunis, media sponsor The Seattle Times and presented in partnership with Third Place Books. Books will be available for purchase and signing.