Let’s Get Free

let's get free

I’ll be honest, at first, I did not know what to expect from this book. When I received it, I started flipping through it, read a bit here and there, then, I read it from the beginning. I started reading it at 11:00 PM and when I finally looked up to see what the time was, it was past 1:00 AM. Even though I had 4 books to read before this one, I tore into it and read it over a few days.

Paul Butler, the author of this book, is a former prosecutor in Washington D.C. and expert in jury nullification. Jury nullification was something I’d never heard of before, and with good reason: It’s not a power jurors are told they have.

According to Wikipedia, Jury nullification is the process whereby a jury in a criminal case nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her.”

Mr. Butler goes on to say that jury nullification is primarily used in “victimless” crimes such as drug possession or selling drugs to a consenting adult – however if the crime is violent or involves selling drugs to a minor, then the jury has the right to throw the book at the defendant.

At first, I was appalled at this course of action, but, once I read on, I understood what Mr. Butler was getting at. According to him, most of the people in jail or prison are there on drug related charges. Keeping them locked up allows them to learn from the hardened criminals, thus making the drug dealers a bit more dangerous once back on the streets. Furthermore, just because you arrest and lock up a drug dealer on one street corner, someone else will be recruited to take that corner, so crime stays at the same level or goes up.

So by nullifying these crimes, juries are telling the powers that be that something’s not right with the system.

He goes on in the end to list several ways to reduce crime and “take back justice” such as paying a kid to finish high school and free the 500,000 people locked up for non-violent drug offenses.

This book is extremely provocative. Several times throughout I just had to say “Are you crazy” about the ideas he mentions, but, once I read through his reasoning in saying what he does about snitching, drug laws, and jury nullification, I have to agree. He does make sense.

Let’s Get Free’s page at The New Press

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One Response to “Let’s Get Free”

  1. This was a Fantastic write up, I will save this in my Diigo account. Have a great evening.

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