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Just mercy : a story of justice and…

Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption (original 2014; edition 2014)

by Bryan Stevenson

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Title:Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption
Authors:Bryan Stevenson
Info:New York : Spiegel & Grau, [2014]
Collections:Checked 2017, Your library
Tags:Social Justice, death penalty, racism, Alabama

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

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I am a relatively new follower of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative and am in awe of his work. I first heard his name while reading Ray Hinton’s memoir The Sun Does Shine. I’ve since heard him on The Axe Files and am aware of the Netflix special. His life’s work is for justice for inmates. Some were wrongfully convicted, some were imprisoned for unreasonable times or in unreasonable conditions, many were on death row.

EJI is based in Alabama and much of the work has been done in the South where racism in the court system is particularly harmful. While reading this book I also attended a musical, The Scottsboro Boys, which brings to life the case and appeals of nine African American youths wrongly accused and sentenced to die in Alabama. The comparison and longstanding history of a flawed justice system and prison system couldn’t be clearer.

Stevenson is humble, hardworking, motivated and compassionate. He sees his client’s flaws but works for just mercy for all. ( )
  Nancyjcbs | Aug 5, 2019 |
This was a VERY difficult book to read but it was also encouraging that there are HEROES in this world like Bryan Stevenson. I first read an article about him in the NYer mag.years ago-( The Legacy of Lynching, On Death Row -Aug, 22, 2016) and immediately bought this book but it has languished on my shelves. The book has been well read and well reviewed on LT but let me just say it was a real eye opener about extreme racial challenges and injustices. Stevenson is a lawyer who started the non profit organizaton (EJI Equal Justice Initiative) to look at injustices and do something about them. He has looked at these injustices through the eyes of being an African American.

-wrongfully convicted individuals on death row
-capital punishment
-children tried as adults, children with life long prison sentences for non homicide offenses and homicide offenses living in adult prisons
-illegal prosecution offenses that have led to wrongful convictions
-prison conditons/management for men and women
-prison history/policy in the U.S.
..........and more

It is his and his organization's unrelenting pressure that has made significant changes but so many more changes need to happen. Most of the focus of the book is on Alabama.

Stevenson has a TED talks presentation.

There is a recent documentary about him "True Justice" (HBO).

He created the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, testaments to the history of slavery, racial inequality and lynching. http://museumandmemorial.eji.org

There will be a film in the future about him, a. film adaptation of his bestseller. “True Mercy,” will open next year with Stevenson played by Michael B. Jordan.

This guy is a hero! ( )
6 vote mdoris | Jul 6, 2019 |
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. I enjoyed listening to the audio about Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit and how Bryan Stevenson helped him and others from Alabama. Bryan has a compassion in the pursuit of true justice. I recommend reading this if you are interested in the flaws of our justice system and what needs to be changed. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 27, 2019 |
My friend, Michael, read this and liked it. Then my cousin Kari, she of the technicolor hair, posted something on FB about how life transforming this book was to her. I think she might be a recovering Evangelical. So, of course, I had to check it out.

The book tells the story of Bryan Stevenson's work as a defense lawyer for people on death row. Our system of capital punishment is seriously lacking in any semblance of justice. Many of the people Stevenson encounters were clearly innocent, were seriously disabled, were children when convicted, were framed, grew up in seriously dysfunctional environments (poverty coupled with abuse), or multiples of the above. Most of them were people of color as well. The public defender system in most states, certainly so in Alabama, which is the focus of Stevenson's work in this book, is pretty much broken. Public defenders were limited to a fee of $500, which wasn't enough to make any efforts worthwhile. So, mostly, they took their fees and did next to nothing.

The book switches back and forth between various cases on which Stevenson was concerned, and the one case in particular of Walter McMillian. McMillian was essentially framed by the "authorities" in his town, who needed a fall guy on which to hang a murder. The only evidence was false testimony from one person, false testimony that had many obvious flaws. Testimony by other people that McMillian was elsewhere at the time of the murder were ignored. But McMillian was a black man who had had an affair with a white woman, so that was all the "facts" the "authorities" needed. I found it creepy to be spending Holy Week reading the story of an innocent man condemned to death by the "authorities". In McMillian's case, he was eventually exonerated...after several decades in death row. WTF Alabama? WTF good Southern Evangelical Christians?

I've always been opposed to capital punishment because I spent too many years in Sunday School. After all, Moses, King David, and Saul of Tarsus were all murderers, but were redeemed in some way to do great things. So, who am I to judge anyone as not, like one the afore mentioned trio, being another fluke among murderers? But, after reading this book, one can see that our system of capital punishment is clearly unjust, way too many innocents, disabled people, and children are condemned to death in this country. Our system of justice needs serious reform. Of course the folks who think the racist Jeff Sessions is fit to be Attorney General of the U.S. will not have much stomach for reform. Of course, it's not just Sessions' Alabama that's the problem. Here in so-called "liberal" Massachusetts, we now use our jails as holding pens for the mentally ill. As a nation, we'll surely have some serious problems to try to explain away when we meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.
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1 vote lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Read this book. It is a powerful look at the criminal justice system, poverty, and race in America, particularly in the south. Stevenson developed a passion for helping the nation's forgotten in the justice system after spending most of his internship negotiating appeals for death row prisoners and ended up founding the Equal Justice Initiative. He has dedicated his career to fighting for true justice--making sure that punishments for crimes committed are fair and that the poorest in prisons have the opportunity for representation in their cases. The book revolves around the case of Walter McMillian a black man who was falsely accused of murdering a white woman. Despite lack of evidence and a plethora of witnesses who put him nowhere near the scene of the murder, he was unjustly tried, convicted, and sentenced to death row. Packed with stories, this book is both deeply moving and extremely thought-provoking. Just read it. ( )
  nrdowner | Jun 20, 2019 |
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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 founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.

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