Let’s Get Free

A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice

Radical ideas for changing the justice system, rooted in the real-life experiences of those in overpoliced communities, from the acclaimed former federal prosecutor and author of Chokehold

“Destined to make us all think in new ways about the concept of justice, the role of hip-hop in American culture, and the power that everyday people have to shape and influence their environment.” —Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University

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.

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. No matter how powerless those caught up in the web of the law may feel, there is a chance to regain agency, argues Butler. Through groundbreaking and sometimes controversial methods—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—ordinary people can tip the system towards actual justice. Let’s Get Free is an evocative, compelling look at the steps we can collectively take to reform our broken system.


“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
“Provides a framework of solutions to a stressed and broken justice system that is in need of reform.”
“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
“An intriguing volume . . . the building block for future scholarship and conversations about racial issues affecting real people.”
LA Daily Journal
“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

Books by Paul Butler

Policing Black Men

Paul Butler

Goodreads Reviews