Saturday, December 31, 2016

Just Mercy

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stephenson, 336 pages.
This was our November, 2016  book discussion title.
Johnson, who as a newly minted lawyer in the mid-1980s volunteered at the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee, helping death-row inmates who had been at best poorly represented at trial, went on to found the Equal Justice Initiative. Since that time, he and his staff have sent hours, days, months, and years struggling to bring something approaching equal justice to prisoners and accused people all over the U.S., particularly in the south. Over the course of his career Stevenson has worked to free those wrongly convicted and those who have received punishment, sentences out of line with the crimes for which they have been convicted. Unsurprisingly, all of Stevenson's clients are poor, many have mental health issues, many are African-American, and none had received decent representation in their dealings with the courts. Stevenson has pled many cases before the Supreme Court and was instrumental in having the law of the land changed. It is no longer considered constitutional to execute those who are convicted of murders committed when very young, nor is it allowed to sentence these youngsters to die in prison. 13-year-olds can no longer be sentenced to life without parole.
Stevenson tells some harrowing tales, some with situations or outcomes that will make you cry, and some that will allow you to feel a little bit of hope. An excellent book.

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