Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy is an utterly astounding account of the heinous ways in which the American justice system gets incarceration and the death penalty so wrong – disproportionately in the lives of disenfranchised and marginalized people.
Bryan Stevenson stumbled into law and has dedicated his entire life to finding justice for individuals whose experiences with the justice system have been unfair, illegal, and downright cruel. Focusing specifically on minority groups – differently abled, children, and people of color – Bryan has made an astounding impact in his community and in the country. These true, heartbreaking, hopeful, infuriating stories tell just that.
Please take caution while reading Just Mercy if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Sexual assault
- Child abuse
- Self-harm / suicide
- Death / dying
- Pregnancy / childbirth
- Mental illness
- Racism / racial slurs
What can I possibly say about a book so astounding, so clearly integral to Americans’ understanding of race, justice, and life? I’ve given too little thought in my life to the devastation that the justice system can cause – specifically in the lives of Black men – because of my extreme privilege. I am forever indebted to Stevenson for not only committing his life to this utterly essential fight, but also for graciously taking the time to write about it so that people like me can have a more clear picture of how our country treats the disenfranchised.
Just Mercy tells the stories of a collection of cases that Stevenson has worked on throughout his career. He covers several cases and each of their outcomes, but the main thread that hold them all together is the case of a wrongfully accused Black man in Alabama who has been on death row from even before he was convicted of the murder he did not commit. This, and every other case in the book, highlight the injustice, hatred, and racism that have and continue to run rampant in America. Sometimes the outcomes of Stevenson’s work end in a new chance at life, and sometimes… they don’t.
Just Mercy elicits a wide range of emotions, from rage to joy and from heartbreak to hope. I highly recommend keeping tissues nearby as you read – I wept for the state of our justice system and our country, for the truth that Stevenson shares. If you haven’t read this book, stop what you’re doing and start it immediately. It is so so important, beautifully written, and deeply affecting.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Just Mercy. I would love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!