Past Event

Let’s Get Free: A Hip Hop Theory of Justice with Paul Butler

Paul Butler’s book Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice is a controversial new critique of the criminal justice system. In this smart and provocative book, Butler, whose work has been covered everywhere from Harpers to 60 Minutes, combines anecdotes from the front lines and his own experiences as a black prosecutor in DC with an incisive takedown of America’s lock-‘em-up culture.

Butler, a former federal prosecutor and cutting-edge legal scholar, offers new perspectives on snitching, drug prohibition, and how technology can improve justice. He focuses on the concept of jury nullification–voting "not-guilty" on principle–as a powerful way to protest unfair laws and offers several innovative suggestions for undoing the damage of mass incarceration.

"[This book is] 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

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 312.413. 5353.

Light refreshments will be served.

More about Paul Butler

Paul Butler is Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Carville Dickinson Benson Research Professor of Law at George Washington (GW) University Law School. His scholarship has been published in many leading scholarly journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law Review and the UCLA Law Review. He was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Acting Co-Director of the GW/Oxford Human Rights Program at Oxford University.  He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2003.  He has written a column for The Legal Times and has published numerous op-ed articles and book reviews.  He lectures regularly for the American Bar Association and the NAACP, and at colleges, law schools, and community organizations throughout the United States. He previously served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption. While at the Department of Justice, he also served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, prosecuting drug and gun cases. He has been awarded the Soros Justice Fellowship. His most recent book is Let’s Get Free: A Hip Hop Theory of Justice

Advance Praise for Let’s Get Free

"Let’s Get Free is 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

"Paul Butler utilizes his years as a prosecutor and law teacher to dramatically describe this country’s war on crime as encouraging what it seeks to eliminate, corrupting those commissioned to enforce its laws, and, in the process, ruining more lives than it protects. Butler conveys this tragedy with a wry humor and through a careful review of studies, experience, and insight."
Derrick Bell, author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well

"A great read. Butler has a fresh and thought-provoking perspective on the war on drugs, snitches, and whether locking so many people up really makes Americans safer. His insightful analysis has the potential to make the United States a more just society."
Anthony Romero, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union

"Let’s Get Free is a tour de force. This book is provocative and informative and creates a cross-generational dialogue that will enrich all those who read it. It helps us understand the complexity of crime and the need to moderate punishment. This is a good read and a must read."
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., author of When Law Fails and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice

This event is co-sponsored by The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and The Public Square.

For more information, call 312.413.5353.