NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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 true justice.
Praise for Just Mercy
"A searing, moving and infuriating memoir . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America's Mandela. For decades he has fought judges, prosecutors and police on behalf of those who are impoverished, black or both. . . . Injustice is easy not to notice when it affects people different from ourselves; that helps explain the obliviousness of our own generation to inequity today. We need to wake up. And that is why we need a Mandela in this country."--Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
"Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he's also a gifted writer and storyteller."--The Washington Post
"Unfairness in the justice system is a major theme of our age. . . . This book brings new life to the story by placing it in two affecting contexts: [Bryan] Stevenson's life work and the deep strain of racial injustice in American life. . . . The book extols not his nobility but that of the cause, and reads like a call to action for all that remains to be done. . . . The message of the book, hammered home by dramatic examples of one man's refusal to sit quietly and countenance horror, is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful."--Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review
"Emotionally profound, necessary reading."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review, Kirkus Prize Finalist)
"A passionate account of the ways our nation thwarts justice and inhumanely punishes the poor and disadvantaged."--Booklist (starred review)
"Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life
As a young Harvard law student testing himself in an internship in Georgia, Stevenson visited death-row inmates and saw firsthand the injustices suffered by the poor and disadvantaged, how too many had been railroaded into convictions with inadequate legal representation. The visit made such an impression on Stevenson that he started the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery, Alabama. One of his first clients was Walter McMillian, a young black man accused of murdering a white woman and imprisoned on death row even before he was tried. Stevenson alternates chapters on the shocking miscarriage of justice in McMillian’s case, including police and prosecutorial misconduct, with other startling cases. The war on drugs and tough-on-crime political postures have resulted in hundreds of juveniles sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for nonhomicidal offenses. Among the cases Stevenson cites: a 14-year-old condemned to death for killing his mother’s abusive boyfriend and a mentally ill adolescent girl condemned to life in prison for second-degree murder for the death of young boys killed in a fire she started accidentally. Through these cases and others, Stevenson details changes in victims’ rights, incarceration of juveniles, death penalty reforms, inflexible sentencing laws, and the continued practices of injustice that see too many juveniles, minorities, and mentally ill people imprisoned in a frenzy of mass incarceration in the U.S. A passionate account of the ways our nation thwarts justice and inhumanely punishes the poor and disadvantaged.