February 2, 2019
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is a memoir authored by Bryan Stevenson. Its plot is based on events that occurred during the 1980s and mid 1990s and records his decades-long vocation as a judicial adviser for prejudiced individuals who were either dishonestly indicted or cruelly condemned. Despite the fact that the book contains profiles of a wide range of individuals, the focal plot is that of the connection between the author, the association he established-the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)-and Walter McMillian, a person of minority unjustly blamed for homicide and condemned to death in Alabama in the late twentieth century. All through the book, Stevenson offers a chronicled setting, just as he offers his own ethical and philosophical contemplation on the criminal justice and jail systems of the United States; He at last contends that society ought to pick compassion and kindness over judgment and condemnation.
Just Mercy pursues Stevenson’s profession as a legal adviser for Alabama detainees who have been placed on death row, particularly detainees wrongly convicted and unjustly condemned by the justice system. Stevenson centers on the case of McMillian, a successful businessman from a minority community in Monroeville, who was embroiled in a scandal because of his affair with a white lady, Karen Kelly. In the meantime, McMillan was indicted for the homicide of Ronda Morrison by Judge Lee Key and condemned to capital punishment, leaving his significant other and his five kids to cater for themselves. In the aftermath of an examination and meticulous appeals process, the author and legal advocate eventually prevails with regards to uncovering the testimony against McMillian as incorrect, falsely gotten through police pressure and prevarication. Subsequently, McMillan’s sentence is revoked as he is found not guilty.
Mixed between sections of McMillan’s story, Stevenson additionally recounts the narratives of numerous other people treated unjustifiably by the criminal and legal equity framework. As Stevenson becomes more acquainted with the network and reveals new proof for Walter’s innocence, he uncovers a chain of political debasement, racial segregation, and a long history of misery.
Thematically, Just Mercy stresses the significance of dynamic resistance to unjust and out of line organizations. The author depicts the prejudice, debasement, and brutality that permeates court systems in the United States (Stevenson), and subsequently leads to the methodical maltreatment of minority communities. There are recurring themes such as systemic authority, dehumanization, and oppression. Stevenson’s memoir details how the judicial system—which is intended to guarantee that every person is treated with equity—contributes to the foundational abuse of minority communities like African Americans, and marginalized groups like women, the debilitated, and poor people.
At the core of Stevenson’s work is the notion that nobody is above committing errors, even horrendous oversights, and that it should get to a point where people should be shown leniency. Unforgiving sanctions, in the eyes of the author, propagate savagery and violence instead of discouraging it. Offering sudden and undeserved benevolence, for Stevenson, is the best way to sever the elongating chains of brutality, capital punishments, and disdain that portray the criminal justice framework.
Just Mercy also shows how the impact which the media has on people, in way of the information and perspectives it offers, thereby forming popular consensus of criminal equity cases and issues. The author proposes that, “due to this ability, the media could be utilized either to teach people in general about the justice framework, and along these lines propel equity or to sustain prejudice through sensationalism” (The Washington Post). His story exhibits how an absence of authentic and exact data standardizes biased thoughts and activities.
There are strengths and weaknesses in Stevenson’s account as well. The author’s depiction of his path to the discovery of purpose in the legal system underlines the significance he puts on the pragmatic utilization of information. This is a strength. For him, genuine accounts of marginalized people and of racial minorities make the legal system feel pertinent to him, underscoring the importance he puts on refining and comprehending the general population and communities affected by the system. On the other hand, Stevenson’s decision to start by focusing on the restless minutes prior to his first collaboration with a detainee condemned to the gallows serves as a weakness, because it bases the book’s attention on advocacy as an adventure. Additionally, it clouds the significance of acquiring knowledge through direct human collaboration and experience.
Bryan Stevenson’s enlightening but controversial book is a staggering, individual, and inside and out take on the racial prejudice which tormented the American justice framework in the twentieth century, and is still tormenting it now. The aim of Stevenson’s work is to strip back the covering on corporal punishment and the tradition of mass imprisonment in the United States. Accentuation is placed on the rate at which the country detains its nationals, particularly poor people and Black American populaces, and the unexpected results and expenses of this mass imprisonment. The author trains a bright light on the irresponsible, unjustifiable and one-sided prosecution of a marginalized populace and the expanding influences this has on households, social groups, and the simple American individual.
Stevenson, Bryan. “Just Mercy” FastReads audio. Accessed November 2, 2019.
Book Review: ‘Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption’ by Bryan Stevenson, reviewed by Rob Warden, The Washington Post, October 23, 2014.