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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and…

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014)

by Bryan Stevenson

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Amazing. Read most of it in one day. Heart breaking but hopeful. ( )
  ktshpd | Oct 22, 2018 |
More of a story than comparable books like Evicted or the New Jim Crow but a thorough read of this injustice and the work Stevenson and his colleagues have done to correct what they can. ( )
  mmaestiho | Sep 20, 2018 |
Read with Kevin as part of his AP class this year. Brutal accounting of the accumulated injustices in our country. I was horrified to read Baldwin Co, Alabama's part in this mess. ( )
  kcshankd | Sep 5, 2018 |
Just Mercy is an autobiography of Bryan Stevenson, a criminal justice lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative. As he explained it to Rosa Parks, the EJI is:

Well, I have a law project called the Equal Justice Initiative, and we’re trying to help people on death row. We’re trying to stop the death penalty, actually. We’re trying to do something about prison conditions and excessive punishment. We want to free people who’ve been wrongly convicted. We want to end unfair sentences in criminal cases and stop racial bias in criminal justice. We’re trying to help the poor and do something about indigent defense and the fact that people don’t get the legal help they need. We’re trying to help people who are mentally ill. We’re trying to stop them from putting children in adult jails and prisons. We’re trying to do something about poverty and the hopelessness that dominates poor communities.

In this book, he tells the stories of the people he has helped over the course of his career. Innocent men and men with mental disabilities put on death row. Women wrongfully imprisoned. Children tried and imprisoned as adults. These are just a few.

In their broken state, they were judged and condemned by people whose commitment to fairness had been broken by cynicism, hopelessness, and prejudice.

I will not lie, this book is a very hard read. At times, I found myself crying with a heart full of sadness and anger. I’m talking shoulder shaking sloppy crying. Yet, I also found myself shedding tears of hope, found in a new understanding of the profound connectedness of our humanity. This book left me a mess and I would not have it any other way. Profound joy and hope cannot be experienced without earth shaking sorrow and despair. Bryan gives you many stories that, if left on their own, would lead you to despair. But every one is accompanied by his tireless compassion, unshakable desire for justice and deep well of mercy. It’s in the juxtaposition that the book makes its most memorable and profound statements.

I reflected on how mass imprisonment has littered the national landscape with carceral monuments of reckless and excessive punishment and ravaged communities with our hopeless willingness to condemn and discard the most vulnerable among us. I told the congregation that Walter’s case had taught me that the death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?

Originally published at https://mcmanus.io/2018/just-mercy-a-story-of-justice-and-redemption-by-bryan-stevenson ( )
  Mattmcmanus | Aug 23, 2018 |
Attorney Stevenson has made a career of representing men, women and children on death row or imprisoned without parole. None of these people could afford counsel, which is primarily how they got into that horrible situation. Many of them, like Walter McMillan, were innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt. Walter’s story, a major focus of the book, began with a simple indiscretion: a black man cheated on his wife with a white waitress in town. That waitress got involved with another man – a deranged, white drug-dealer – and the two of them decided to frame Walter for a murder that had just taken place. As the tale unfolds, we learn Walter was at home surrounded by family, friends and community members at the moment of the murder, and you wonder how anyone could have thought this man guilty. Without any real leads in the case and because of rising community pressure to charge someone with the crime, a racially biased justice system put an innocent man on trial with negligent defense and then sentenced him to fry in the electric chair.
Just Mercy is more than the story of Walter McMillan. It’s the story of our country’s fear-filled response to those who are the least, the last, and the lost. It tells “the importance of hopefulness in creating justice” and the redemptive power of brokenness. As Attorney Stevenson says, “I do what I do because I'm broken, too. My years of struggling against inequality, abuse of power, poverty, oppression, and injustice had finally revealed something to me about myself. You can't effectively fight … injustice and not be broken by it.”
This is not an overtly religious book, but Stevenson’s early immersion in the black church shines through on every page. In fact, he presents something like the gospel of Jesus Christ when he says, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done,” and “There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.” Quoting the story of the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus, Stevenson names what all Christians ought to be about: “I decided that I was supposed to be here to catch some of the stones people cast at each other.”
I highly recommend this book for those who want to grow in their faith.
“Mercy is just when it is rooted in hopefulness and freely given.” ( )
  WordCrafter | Aug 4, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812994523, Hardcover)

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.
Praise for Just Mercy
“Words such as important and compelling may have lost their force through overuse, but to read this book is to feel that they have been restored, along with one’s hopes for humanity.”—Tracy Kidder
“Bryan Stevenson is America’s young Nelson Mandela—a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all.”—Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:45 -0400)

The executive director of a social advocacy group that has helped relieve condemned prisoners explains why justice and mercy must go hand-in-hand through the story of Walter McMillian, a man condemned to death row for a murder he didn't commit.

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