File Size: 897 KB
Print Length: 354 pages
Publisher: Scribe (February 2, 2015)
Publication Date: February 2, 2015
Bryan Stevenson is the self-effacing writer of this terrific book about the legal conflict he has waged against cruel, unjust sentencing procedures in this country for over three decades now. Their history of founding and working for the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, is told through real case histories of real people who were subjected to degradation and inhumane treatment that will shock you, anger you, and bring you to tears.
I spent a 25+ year career as a federal prosecutor, in the rarefied world of the federal courts, and am ashamed to say that I had no idea that such horrendous things were happening simultaneously in the state courts of our country. How Stevenson handled to stay on task for decades, to spend so much time simply connecting with his clients as human beings, and to accomplish such extraordinary results is amazing. I discovered a lot, and the teachings of The Fresh Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander [another excellent book on the penitentiary commercial complex in this country] were strong.
Perhaps my personal favorite chapter, for what it said about humanity, is entitled Minimization. I will be using the facts from that section in a future talk at my Unitarian Universalist chapel. "Each of us is far more than the worst thing we have ever done. " This phrase echoes throughout this work, which, while fact filled, also has a strong spiritual component to it.
This can be a great book. Please read it, and do as We did on completion. Locate the Equal Justice Effort and give them some financial support. They work on a shoestring, and care for some of the most helpless and clingy among us., At their core, Bryan Stevenson's MERELY MERCY is about the inherent inhumanity of the American justice system. Because Stevenson puts it, "Presumptions of guilt, poverty, racial prejudice, and a host of other sociable, structural, and political mechanics have created a process that is defined by error, a system in which thousands of innocent people now suffer in prison. inches This can be a system that condemns children to life imprisonment without parole, that makes petty theft against the law as serious as murder, and that has declared war on hundreds of thousands of folks with drug abuse problems by imprisoning them and denying them help. Stevenson is an attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, an organization that offers free legal services to the poor and disenfranchised. His book is a sobering look at criminal justice from the perspective of the people least likely to be treated pretty.
JUST MERCY explores quite a few of devastating cases, including children as young as fourteen facing life imprisonment, and scores of folks on death row - mostly poor, and mostly dark - who have been unfairly found guilty. But the key concentrate is on Walter McMillan, a black man sentenced to death for the murder of a notable young white woman. McMillan claimed he did not commit this crime, and he a new score of alibi witnesses, but this individual was quickly railroaded into both a conviction and a death sentence. Stevenson spent years attempting to get McMillan a new trial, and the two men remained connected throughout the remainder of McMillan's life. It's a fascinating case, the one that involves perjury, police corruption, a racist assess, and prosecutors more intent on protecting their politics positions than finding justice.
Stevenson's thesis is that justice itself is denied for the millions of Americans who are poor, non-white, emotionally ill, or otherwise disenfranchised. Ours is no longer a country that sees compassion as a virtue; instead, we write harsher and harsh laws that demand longer and longer sentences for those we consider undesirables. "The true measure of our character, " Stevenson writes, "is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the ruined. " And by the final page of MERELY MERCY, it is rather clear that we, as Americans, have fallen short.
It's uncommon these days to meet someone who truly dedicates himself to those minimum able to help themselves, especially someone who isn't after media attention or self-promotion. Stevenson's tireless attempts to give solace to the countless men and women on death row are both inspirational and re-inifocing. He isn't successful in freeing all of his clients - more than a few are executed in spite of his pleas - but what he offers them is more than just legal support. He listens to them, takes them seriously, investigates in ways the police failed to do, and gives them a voice they'd otherwise been denied. In the long run, Stevenson writes, "we have to reform a system of criminal justice that is constantly on the treat people better if they happen to be rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent. inches That's a tough training for a world too often motivated by money, power, and political position. The people Bryan Stevenson works for do not have money, no power, with no politics position, however they are human beings deserving of empathy and mercy. "Each of us is far more than the worst thing we've actually done, " Stevenson creates, adding, "the opposite of poverty is not prosperity; the opposite of poverty is justice. " Because Americans, we cannot be proud of our justice system until it offers justice to any or all of our people, and not only those with money and influence. That is a hard sell in all of us mercenary, "me first" environment. But Stevenson's voice is one we all need to hear. JUST MERCY is a powerful and eye-opening book. I recommend it highly., When I first started reading this book I really had no idea what to expect or why I should even take the time to read it. My tendency is to put things into "liberal" and "conservative" buckets and this one relatively fit into the liberal bucket and I was a professed conservative. We still am but We have to say that I had been moved by this story beyond my anticipation. There is indeed so much injustice in this world and plenty of opportunity for mercy; even mercy extended in unforeseen places. The plight of the poor and downtrodden is overwhelming to consider and this book provided a reason to view people's circumstances before providing condemnation. I would totally recommend reading it., This book outlines numerous legal, incarceration, and death charges horrors inflicted by criminal justice systems, largely in the south, on people who are poor, dark, young or old, women, or mentally challenged, or some combination. I had been horrified by the assumptions, the prejudice, the indifference, of the players - attorneys, " experts", jail employees, jurors, trial judges, and appellate judges - shocking legal failures described as occurring within a subset, a region, of the Us system of criminal justice designed to do right. We hear and read about prejudice all the time, but this includes more start to finish details of folks and categories than are usually reported in the news. This book was a page-turner for me and for the other members of my book club (most of whom aren't lawyers).
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