“Get Off My Neck” Former Baltimore Prosecutor Pens Book Offering Solutions To Reform Criminal Justice System


Thomas O’Connor

Debbie Hines knows a lot about criminal justice—the former trial attorney, Baltimore prosecutor, and Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland has had years to hone her experience in this arena.

As a Black woman who became disillusioned by the current state of affairs, Hines was inspired to write a book, sharing her personal experiences and offering up “a proactive approach for fixing our broken prosecutorial system.”  

“As a trial attorney, a former assistant attorney general for the state of Maryland and Baltimore prosecutor, I know that police accountability is rare,” Debbie Hines told ESSENCE.

Hines is in fact part of a very elite and exclusive club—according to a 2019 Reflective Democracy Campaign project, “elected prosecutors are 95% white, a data point that hasn’t shifted for half a decade.”

In addition, “[a]lthough women of color are disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system, only 2% of prosecutors are themselves women of color.”

On the opposite side, Pew Charitable Trusts reports that “although a wave of changes to sentencing and corrections policies over the past two decades has helped lessen disparities in federal and state prisons, Black adults still were imprisoned in 2020 at five times the rate for White adults.”

As Marilyn Mosby, former Baltimore City’s State Attorney, said “Prosecutors are the ones who decide who are going to be charged, what they’re gonna be charged with, what sentence recommendations they’re going to make. They are a key and probably one of the most important and vital stakeholders within the criminal justice system.”

“It’s not even about you personally, it’s about what you represent. And what you represent to the status quo…The keepers of the status quo, are tones that establish over the criminalization of poor black and brown people, mass incarceration,” continued Mosby.

“It disheartens me to read the statistics and know that few police officers will be charged, convicted, sentenced or face any accountability for homicides committed,” Hines continued. “We cannot have a criminal justice system that disproportionately penalizes one group of people and excludes another group from any accountability.”

Hines’ book, “Get Off My Neck: Black Lives, White Justice, and a Former Prosecutor’s Quest for Reform,” was officially published today. Throughout the text, Hines brilliantly weaves together narratives from her personal and professional life to illuminate the criminal justice system’s “devastating impact on Black children, youth, and adults.”

“Get Off My Neck” doesn’t just list out the problems within our nation’s criminal justice system. The attorney deftly offers up solutions based on her years of experience in the courtroom on how the creation of “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.”


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