Title/Author: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
In a nutshell (Publisher):
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING MICHAEL B. JORDAN AND JAMIE FOXX
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • 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 true justice.
After reading Ray’s story, I knew I had to read about the man who got him out of death row and back to freedom, Mr Bryan Stevenson, the lawyer that literally saved Ryan’s life.
And my, what a journey Mr Stevenson’s had had – from the very humble beginnings of finding his way in the world to saving the poor and incarcerated.
Reading his cases shocked and shook me to the core. The heart of this story evolved around Walter who was wrongly accused for the murder of a clerk in a dry cleaner’s shop. Evidence was ignored, so-called ‘witnesses’ were paid, some threatened, and evidence were fabricated to help the prosecutors to ultimately send the victim to death row. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp!
As if that wasn’t infuriating enough, there were also other cases that made my blood boil especially those in ‘All God’s Children‘. Did you know children in Pennsylvania, as young as 13 and 17, who were convicted of second degree murder, were sentenced to life with no parole because that was the only sentence for second degree murder? Trina, who accidentally caused a house on fire resulting in the deaths of two boys who were sleeping in the house, is spending her life there.
Ian, who shot a lady while attempting a robbery, was also given the same sentencing, and at 13, was sent to an adult prison in Apalachee Correctional Institution. The staff had to put Ian in solitary confinement because juveniles in adult prisons tend to be the victims of sexual assault. Each time he tried to get himself his stay was extended. He spent 18 years in there. The victim of Ian’s act pleaded for a reduced sentence for Ian, saying it’s too harsh and cruel, only to be ignored.
Many teens in the United States have been legally condemned to life imprisonment without parole or other extreme sentences, with little help or support from outside, due to the unjust systems. What are we trying to prove???
After reading these cases especially the ones with death sentences, it made me reflect, who are we to decide that a person deserves to die?? Who are we to kill? If we execute someone, even if that person is guilty, aren’t we killers/murderers ourselves?? I, like Walter, believe that we all die on God’s time.
And those kids, my, do they really deserve life imprisonment or the extreme sentences? And what about those imprisoned in adult prisons? Some too young to even fit in an adult inmate uniform!
Why do I think this is an important read? Because it creates awareness that there exists a system that is unfair mostly to the poor, women, the discriminated, and the young – “a system that continues to treat the rich and guilty better than the poor and innocent”, a system that needs to be changed.
This quote, this quote right here is what scares me:
“Finality, not fairness, had become the new priority in death penalty jurisprudence.”
A poignant and powerful book. Read this. Then tell others about it.
For more of what Mr. Stevenson and his team are doing, go to eji.org
Have you read this? What did you think? If not, do you intend to read this? Please do share with me your thoughts!
Till then, HAPPY READING!