Featured book: Get Off My Neck by Debbie Hines

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: Black Lives, White Justice, and a Former Prosecutor’s Quest for Reform, Debbie Hines draws 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.

“Years as a prosecutor taught Debbie Hines that justice in America isn’t colorblind—it’s color coded,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “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.”

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, Hines offers 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.

“My hope is that, armed with knowledge of how prosecutors work, everyone who seeks racial justice and prosecutorial reform will act to make transformative changes that lead to a noncarceral prosecutorial system that is just and compassionate,” Hines writes.

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.

Get Off My Neck in the media

Author Debbie Hines was interviewed on CNN’s Weekend Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield, discussing the case and Get Off My Neck.

ESSENCE covered the book and wrote that Hines “brilliantly weaves together narratives from her personal and professional life to illuminate the criminal justice system’s impacts.”

Hines discussed Get Off My Neck on NPR Baltimore’s Midday (WYPR).

Daily Kos included Get Off My Neck in a roundup of notable new nonfiction.

Hines was interviewed for The Thom Hartmann Program about her work and her book.

Publishers Weekly reviewed Get Off My Neck, writing that Hines’s account of the criminal justice system is “uniquely worthwhile.”

Kirkus Reviews covered the book and called it “a forceful plea to reform the toxic entanglement of prosecution, policing, and probation in the criminal justice system.”

Library Journal included Get Off My Neck in their list of books to know in 2024.

Learn more about Get Off My Neck