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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Drawing on his personal fascinating story as a prosecutor, a defendant, and an observer of the legal process, Paul Butler offers a sharp and engaging critique of our criminal justice system. He argues against discriminatory drug laws and excessive police power and shows how our policy of mass incarceration erodes communities and perpetuates crime. Controversially, he

Overview

Drawing on his personal fascinating story as a prosecutor, a defendant, and an observer of the legal process, Paul Butler offers a sharp and engaging critique of our criminal justice system. He argues against discriminatory drug laws and excessive police power and shows how our policy of mass incarceration erodes communities and perpetuates crime. Controversially, he supports jury nullification—or voting “not guilty” out of principle—as a way for everyday people to take a stand against unfair laws, and he joins with the “Stop Snitching” movement, arguing that the reliance on informants leads to shoddy police work and distrust within communities. Butler offers instead a “hip hop theory of justice,” parsing the messages about crime and punishment found in urban music and culture. Butler’s argument is powerful, edgy, and incisive.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595585103
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
533,441
File size:
379 KB

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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