ABC BOOK CHALLENGE REVIEW: Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson


Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Biography, Justice, law

Publisher: One World 
  342 pages
Buy:  Kindle | Paperback


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.


I know there is a movie about this book and that it is supposed to be excellent but I haven't seen it.  I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie.  If the movie is anything like the book all I can say is Wow! Stephenson has dedicated his life to justice reform.  He moved to Alabama and started the Equal Justice Initiative and has not only gotten several people's convictions overturned who were on death row but also changed many laws that pertain to juvenile offenders.  

Through all the triumphs and successes Stephenson has seen he has also seen his share of heartbreak.  Watching people die, particularly when you know they are innocent is difficult. When its a child, its life changing.  How Stephenson continues this work day after day, year after year is a testament to his faith and his dedication to his cause.  

This book is not for the faint of heart.  It will make you angry, make you cry, make you tired and make you question your stance on what justice in this country really means.  I was always on the fence about the death penalty, especially knowing that many innocents were sentenced and brought to death because of corruption within the system and sometimes just for being black and poor, now I can safely say I would like to see it abolished.  

This story isn't just about Stephenson helping one person who was wrongly convicted it is about his work to help so many.  To change unjust laws, like the 3 strike rule, and sentencing juveniles to adult facilities or even to death.  He shows case after case of how justice was not served.  How prosecutors held back evidence in order to fit a narrative of their choosing.  How judges refused to admit evidence that pertained to long term abuse, or refused to look at new evidence in cases that prove someone's innocence.  Is it really justice if we have innocent people who can't get new trials, or released because of technicalities? If there is evidence of innocence why is there even a question of whether it can be submitted or used to gain a release or retrial? How economic status and race play the biggest role in whether justice is really served. 

Everyone should read this book.  Everyone should take heed.  When the system is corrupt you never know if someone you know or love will get caught in its web. 

Click on the 3 lines at the top of the blog to view my sidebar where you can follow me on facebook, bloglovin, and amazon