A deeply revealing exposé of the American prosecutorial system and its historic and present racial inequities—and how we can transform the system to one of fairness and justice.
In Get Off My Neck, Debbie Hinesdraws on her unique perspective as a trial lawyer, former Baltimore prosecutor, and assistant attorney general for the State of Maryland to argue that US prosecutors, as the most powerful players in the criminal justice system, systematically target and criminalize Black people. Hines describes her disillusionment as a young Black woman who initially entered the profession with the goal of helping victims of crimes, only to discover herself aiding and abetting a system that prizes plea bargaining, speedy conviction, and excessive punishment above all else. In this book, she offers concrete, specific, and hopeful solutions for just how we can come together in a common purpose for criminal justice and racial justice reform.
Get Off My Neck explains that the racial inequities in the prosecutorial system are built into our country's DNA. What's more, they are the direct result of a history that has conditioned Americans to perceive the Black body as insignificant at best and dangerous at worst. Unlike other books that discuss the prosecutor's office and change from inside the office, Hinesoffers a proactive approach to fixing our broken prosecutorial system through a broad-based alliance of reform-minded prosecutors, activists, allies, communities, and racial justice organizations—all working together to end the racist treatment of Black people.
Told intimately through personal, family, and client narratives, Get Off My Neck is not only a deeply sobering account of our criminal justice system and its devastating impact on Black children, youth, and adults but also a practical and inspiring roadmap for how we can start doing better right now.
Former Baltimore prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland, and trial attorney Debbie Hines is an advocate for racial equity in the criminal justice system. She maintains a private law practice focused on civil and criminal litigation in Washington, DC. A leading voice in the discourse of criminal justice and race, Hines is often called on by media networks for legal commentary.
"A forceful plea to reform the toxic entanglement of prosecution, policing, and probation in the criminal justice system."
“Years as a prosecutor taught Debbie Hines that justice in America isn't colorblind—it's color coded. In Get Off My Neck, Hines not only exposes the staggering racial inequities in our prosecutorial system and the harsh history that produced it, she lights a brilliant path to a more just and equitable future.”
Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
“Get Off My Neck is the chilling inside story I have been waiting for. In this must-read book, Hines tells a courageous account of America's prosecutorial offices in a captivating and exquisitely detailed manner. This book provides revolutionary insight and should be required reading for every law school student across this nation or for anyone proclaiming an interest in disrupting the injustices in the legal system.”
Susan Burton, Founder, A New Way of Life; author of Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women
“Amid many accounts of racial injustice at the entry and exit points of America's criminal legal system, Get Off My Neck pushes past the perimeter to the very center: overprosecution. Debbie Hines presents a blueprint for effective and meaningful reform.”
Patrice Sulton, Founder and Executive Director, DC Justice Lab
“Hines, a former public prosecutor in Baltimore and now a private defense attorney, debuts with a scathing indictment of the criminal justice system…what makes Hines's account uniquely worthwhile is her detailed and intriguing behind-the-scenes analysis of how prosecutors operate. This passionate firsthand critique will appeal to those interested in criminal justice reform.”