Let’s Get Free

A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice

In a book Library Journal calls “required reading for all concerned about their neighborhoods and our criminal justice system,” a former federal prosecutor’s radical argument for reform

“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. 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.


“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