Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Brian Stevenson

This book is nonfiction and it is Bryan Stevenson’s memoir relating his work of challenging bias against the poor and people of color, and fighting for human rights in the US. If human rights are violated to brutally in one of the most powerful and advanced countries in the world then its hard to think what’s happening in the lesser developed countries. But I will stop here before I start condemning the entire human race…

I read this book in February 2019 because I saw it on a Booktubers’ best books of all times list (Mercysbookiskmusings channel) and now it’s July and I still think about it. It is the only book this year I have five stars to on Booktube, shocker, I know, but I read a lot and its hard to find books that I’m that impressed by to warrant giving it five stars.

As the blurb says this is a powerful book. It will break your heart, especially if you life in the US because it is about the justice system in America and its victims. Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he started the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) with the aim to help those who needed it the most, the poor, the wrongly accused, women and children unable to get help from anyone else.

Reading the stories of these people makes my heart ache, because there are cases in this book about innocent people spending decades incarcerated in the harshest conditions for crimes the did not commit simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or because of the color of their skin.

“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”

I could not believe what I was reading! I knew that the justice system is bad in the US, but I was outraged. I followed closely the Netflix documentary, Making a Murderer, in which we follow the struggle of the Avery family against discrimination and wrongful incarceration and a case like the Averys could have easily been in Just Mercy.

EJI

Bryan Stevenson dedicates his entire life to fighting for human rights and he changes lives and to my relief he is changing the system.

From his bio on his website:

“Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced. Mr. Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the United States Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-imprisonment-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America. ”

I don’t want blabber on too much about this book but if you are reading this then I urge you to read it!

If you’re looking for more great nonfiction reads check out my post on Books about North Korea.

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