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Comment: Beautiful ex-library copy! Dust jacket is the alternate white one. Dust jacket has two library stickers. Plastic over dust jacket has a small cut on back and a few dimples on back. Top edges of pages have a couple of library stamps. A couple of pages have library stamps/stickers. Rest of inside is pristine! Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Tracking number provided in your Amazon account with every order.
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Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice Hardcover – May 12, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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. A law professor at Georgetown University, he is the author of Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice (The New Press). He has published numerous op-eds and book reviews, including in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; First Edition edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583291
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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This book addresses a question I have had for a long time: Why, with all the might and power of the U.S. has there been hardly a dent made in the war on drugs. When I saw the interview of Paul Butler on C-S[an/Book T.V., I was intrigued by both the views and the research of the author. I thought there would be answers to my questions in his work, and I was not disappointed. The sad truth is that the "fight against drugs" has an underlying purpose, which today is beginning to be openly discussed: the deliberate decimation of a target population through addiction, incarceration (often for the financial benefit of others) destruction of communities, prison release with life penalties that deny jobs, voting rights, ability to meet responsibilities to family and community, and then re-addiction--a vicious circle. Drugs are a multi million dollar business; a stone that kills more than one bird. The truth, however, is finally being exposed. According to the author, hip-hop, which many people don't understand, but may be happy to learn about, has answers that make sense.
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