Let's Get Free

Let's Get Free

Recently, I attended a conference in Baltimore at The University of Maryland called “Ferguson and Beyond: Toward An Equitable, Safe, and Just Society.” It was a free program which focused on some of the underlying causes of the recent and ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri. Specifically, the program highlighted the criminal justice system and the ways in which the various components of the system impact individuals, families, and communities of color.


The keynote speaker, Professor Paul Butler from Georgetown Law Center, delivered the most compelling and honest speech about his personal experience as former prosecutor dealing with the issues of race and criminal justice. I sat in the front row listening to his proposal for reaching a more equitable, safe, and just society, and I decidced I was determined to speak to him. The next day I decided to find his contact information, once I realized that Georgetown Law is a 10 minute walk from The Washington Center.


We scheduled an appointment to meet during his office hours. We had a genuine conversation about our lives and about our shared experience working at the Public Defender’s office. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about a person who I look up to, who can be valuable to learn from, and is an asset to have in my professional corner.


From our two meetings in his office, he gave me his book that has been widely reviewed, “Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice.”  The book received the Harry Chapin Media award, and he wants me to read it and then tell him what I think about it. I am currently reading it, and I am absolutely hooked! It is a very powerful book that details his groundbreaking and highly controversial arguments. It's changing the way I think about crime and punishment in the United States.


And, he signed my book, “For Jahmel Martin, future law student, and present fighter of justice”. Indeed sir, indeed. Thank you.


Peace & Love,



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