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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583291
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About 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. Let's Get Free is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
Overall, very well written and informative.
Adrian S
Paul Butler does a great job of explaining the possible ways to make our justice system more effective.
M.CAPPGOV
I must say -- I'm only halfway through the book but thus far this is a riveting read.
Julian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By C. W. Day on August 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former student of Professor Paul Butler, I was not surprised to find his book refreshing in its candor, raw in its emotion, and revolutionary in its outlook. At bottom, Professor Butler's analysis is grounded in the radical notion that the government should respect people's right to be secure in their persons and property, a right formerly enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Even more fundamentally, he argues that we should re-embrace freedom in this country in ways that range from not incarcerating nonviolent offenders to decriminalizing drugs. Our prisons, he points out, have made our lives more dangerous by serving to indoctrinate nonviolent offenders in the ways of violent crime. Not only are we squandering lives that might otherwise be productive, but we are also creating a contempt for law not seen since Prohibition and extending police power in a manner not consistent with a free society.

Ironically, Butler points out that prosecutorial bullying coupled with the indiscriminate use of paid informants ("snitches") has radically undermined the rule of law. Indiscriminate prosecution leads to a fatalistic attitude in some communities that come to regard prosecution more as an inevitable misfortune than an avoidable sanction. Paid informants not only undermine community trust and generate false information, but they also allow some of the worst offenders to carry on a life of crime in the knowledge that the police will protect and excuse their paid informers.

As the book's title suggests, Butler derives a series of principles for approaching the problems of criminal justice that are derived from hip hop culture. No disrespect, but I am about as familiar with hip hop as I am with Russian folk dancing, which is to say, not very.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mona G. Affinito on July 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fortunately C.W. Day has given a detailed review of Butler's book. That helps a lot, because I'm having trouble knowing where to start in expressing appreciation for it. What I want to know is why there are so few reviews? This is important! It should have a wide audience.

So why did I give it only four stars rather than five? Because I take issue with the statement on page 124, "Punishment should be the point of criminal justice, but it should be limited by the impact it has on the entire community." Everything he's said in the book would lead me to assume he has a different goal. As an enthusiast for the Restorative Practices movement, I believe, and I infer that he really believes as well, that punishment may serve a goal of individual and social justice, but is not a goal in itself. That takes us right back to the damage done by the focus on retribution, inflicting pain for pain, which has led us to the "Get tough on crime" thing in the first place. As he so aptly points out, getting "tough on crime" is nothing of the sort. It's "getting tough on criminals," which, as he points out, has the effect of increasing crime. On page 19 he says, "There is a tipping point at which crime increases if too many people are incarcerated. The United States is past this point. If we lock up fewer people, we will be safer." This point is elaborated on p. 25 by his pointing out that "Now, the United States has the largest rate of incarceration in the history of the free world."

Interestingly, evidence from sources other than Butler's book suggests that the rate of imprisonment is directly related to the decision to privatize prisons. I recall a friend of mine - a former state administrator of probation - saying at the time, "Just watch.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Julian on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must say -- I'm only halfway through the book but thus far this is a riveting read. Butler provides an inside look at the criminal justice system and provides some really interesting insights as well as alternative viewpoints on the topic.

I've rarely said this about any book, but this is one of the most relevant books Americans could read right now. Very highly recommended!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Perkinson on March 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was half asleep when I picked up this book, but I was wide awake by the end of the introduction. Then I kept going. Wow. Lucidly written and vigorously argued, it combines hard-hitting political analysis with honest self-reflection. It's both insightful and fresh. Really an important, readable book. Give it to your friends. Let's Get Free!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daryl on October 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For people interested in exploring our national misadventure into mass incarceration, this book is an eye opener to the racial bias, contempt for the poor and general lack of long range thinking in the criminal justice system. We must be more FREE.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrian S on March 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book to be very interesting, written in a very entertaining manner. The use of hip hop or a theory on justice is limited, but I think that that is a good thing because it doesn't try to fit the mess in our criminal justice system into one theoretical explanation. Overall, very well written and informative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda on February 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was extremely worthwhile and provided a different vantage point from other books I had read on the topic. A black former prosecutor tells what is wrong with a justice system that seeks out and penalizes black drug dealers and users, while white dealers and users are mostly ignored. He gives statistics and examples to illustrate how the system is discriminatory and why we should all care. He explains the negative effects on the whole society and proposes alternate methods of dealing with non-violent offenders. He even suggests things that individuals can do to improve justice. Another book I would highly recommend that deals with the same subject is "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander.
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