Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is a book that will shake you to your core.
You will begin this book with the expectation that you will learn something new about the prison industry, but you will exit this book knowing that you have learned lessons that will stick with you for life; and stories that will not only force you to have awareness but motivate you to want to actively work towards change.
I read a lot of works of fiction with storylines so dark and unsettling that I often have to sit them down for moments, sometimes days, before I can re-enter the story again. What makes this work so heartbreaking is that this isn’t a work of fiction, so even if I put the book down to regather myself, I know that the individual whose life I’m reading about didn’t have that same opportunity. Just Mercy is the telling of numerous horrendous injustices inflicted upon wrongfully convicted victims of the justice system in not only the state of Alabama, but throughout the U.S.
I first became introduced to the work of Bryan Stevenson through the documentary 13th, by my pretend bae, Ava DuVernay. This should be mandatory viewing for all. So, if you haven’t seen it, you should be heading over to Netflix to view it now.
The book walks us through the experiences of Bryan Stevenson and his clients.
The introduction takes us from Mr. Stevenson’s time at Harvard Law, where “the courses seemed esoteric and disconnected from the race and poverty issues that had motivated [him] to consider the law in the first place,” to his being an intern with the Southern Prisoners Defense Comittee Im Atlanta, GA. It is not unfair to say that this experience significantly shaped the course of his life. We the readers are made aware of this by his first conversation with the Director, Steve Bright. “Capital punishment means ‘them without capital get the punishment,’” he was informed during their discussion. Throughout the book we are allowed to see just how true that statement is.
Throughout the book we become privy to the lives of so many—
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