Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice

Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice

by Paul Butler
     
 

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Paul Butler was an ambitious federal prosecutor, a Harvard Law grad who gave up his corporate law salary to fight the good fight—until one day he was arrested on the street and charged with a crime he didn’t commit. The Volokh Conspiracy calls Butler’s account of his trial "the most riveting first chapter I have ever read."

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Overview

Paul Butler was an ambitious federal prosecutor, a Harvard Law grad who gave up his corporate law salary to fight the good fight—until one day he was arrested on the street and charged with a crime he didn’t commit. The Volokh Conspiracy calls Butler’s account of his trial "the most riveting first chapter I have ever read."

In a book Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree calls "a must read," Butler looks at places where ordinary citizens meet the justice system—as jurors, witnesses, and in encounters with the police—and explores what "doing the right thing" means in a corrupt system.

Since Let’s Get Free’s publication in spring 2009, Butler has become the go-to person for commentary on criminal justice and race relations: he appeared on ABC News, Good Morning America, and Fox News, published op-eds in the New York Times and other national papers, and is in demand to speak across the country. The paperback edition brings Butler’s groundbreaking and highly controversial arguments—jury nullification (voting "not guilty" in drug cases as a form of protest), just saying "no" when the police request your permission to search, and refusing to work inside the system as a snitch or a prosecutor—to a whole new audience.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Butler (law, George Washington Univ.), a former federal prosecutor, makes a clear case for what ails our criminal justice system. The statistics alone are staggering: the United States comprises 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prison population; approximately half the U.S. prison population is made up of African Americans, with more young black men in prison than in college. Since the War on Drugs began over 30 years ago, the U.S. prison population has exploded, owing partly to harsh sentences for minor drug charges. Ironically, the overall crime rate is lowered (for a number of reasons) if we house fewer prisoners, and Butler suggests ways citizens can help in this regard, from jury nullification (i.e., acquitting a defendant in the face of the government's case) to campaigning for the end of racial profiling. He also describes hip-hop's role in chronicling what is wrong with our system. While some of his suggestions will certainly prove controversial, we can hope that this timely book leads to more dialog and to change. Required reading for all concerned about their neighborhoods and our criminal justice system.
—Karen Sandlin Silverman

From the Publisher

"Useful analyses and original suggestions regarding the debate about how best to incarcerate fewer people . . . a debate that should have begun years ago." —California Lawyer

"An intriguing volume . . . the building block for future scholarship and conversations about racial issues affecting real people." —LA Daily Journal

"Provides a framework of solutions to a stressed and broken justice system that is in need of reform." —purepolitics.com

"A can’t-put-it-down call to action from a progressive former prosecutor. Butler’s take on controversial topics like snitching and drug legalization is provocative . . . smart and very entertaining." —Danny Glover

"A fresh and thought-provoking perspective on the war on drugs, snitches, and whether locking so many people up really makes Americans safer." —Anthony Romero, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595585004
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Pages:
214
Sales rank:
367,225
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author


A former federal prosecutor, Paul Butler is the country’s leading expert on jury nullification. He provides legal commentary for CNN, NPR, and the Fox News Network, and has been featured on 60 Minutes and profiled in the Washington Post. He has written for the Post, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times, and is a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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