Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

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Overview

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

“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, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham
 
“From the frontlines of social justice comes one of the most urgent voices of our era. Bryan Stevenson is a real-life, modern-day Atticus Finch who, through his work in redeeming innocent people condemned to death, has sought to redeem the country itself. This is a book of great power and courage. It is inspiring and suspenseful—a revelation.”—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns
 
“Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

No less authority than Desmond Tutu calls Bryan Stevenson "America's young Nelson Mandela, a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all." In this book, Stevenson (Five Kids and One Gun) writes with impassioned purpose about the early work of the Equal Justice Initiative that he founded to defend the poor and the wrongly condemned and convicted, including several who spent years, even decades on death row. A powerful first-person appeal for just mercy. Editor's recommendation.

Library Journal
10/01/2014
In 1983, Stevenson (executive director, Equal Justice Initiative; law, New York Univ.) was doing an internship that involved assisting inmates on Alabama's death row. His memoir, which often reads like a true crime novel, relates his experiences with several of his cases, primarily that of Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death for a notorious murder that he insisted he did not commit. Working with McMillian, Stevenson was put in contact with other non-death row inmates, and he soon realized that many, especially the poor, were in desperate need of legal help. Times have changed since the 1980s but inequalities still exist. This book is also a passionate rallying cry for people, especially those in law enforcement, to employ more just mercy in dealing with offenders. Stevenson provides readers with numerous examples of how circumstances could have been handled in a more humane way and expresses hope for change. Finally, he hits capital punishment head-on, and ends his last chapter with the thought-provoking comment that justice is not about whether people deserve to die for crimes they commit, but whether we (the nation) deserve to kill. VERDICT A must-read for anyone in the field of criminal justice and for fans of true crime. [See Prepub Alert, 4/14/14.]—Frances O. Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY
Library Journal
05/01/2014
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, Stevenson traveled to Alabama, where speeded-up executions were threatening the very concept of justice as many of those condemned were too poor or disempowered to secure legal representation. To help such people, he founded the Equal Justice Initiative. From a MacArthur fellow and TED talker with a million-plus hits.
The New York Times Book Review - Ted Conover
Stevenson's is not the first telling of this miscarriage of justice…But this book brings new life to the story by placing it in two affecting contexts: Stevenson's life's work and the deep strain of racial injustice in American life…The message of this 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. The day I finished it, I happened to read in a newspaper that one in 10 people exonerated of crimes in recent years had pleaded guilty at trial. The justice system had them over a log, and copping a plea had been their only hope. Bryan Stevenson has been angry about this for years, and we are all the better for it.
Publishers Weekly
09/29/2014
With a mandate to serve the poor and voiceless, Stevenson, a professor of law at New York University and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal firm providing services for the wrongly condemned, describes in his memoir how he got the call to represent this largely neglected clientele in our justice system. He notes that, with no parole in some states and a thriving private prison business that often pushes local governments to create new crimes and impose stiffer sentences, America has the world’s highest incarceration rate and, at 2.3 million, its largest incarcerated population. In an early case during his career, Stevenson defended Walter McMillian, a black man from southern Alabama, who was accused by a white con-man of two murders, although the snitch had never even met him and was himself under investigation for one of the murders. Through a series of bogus legal situations, police harassment, racism, and phony testimony, McMillian found himself on Alabama’s death row, fully aware of the legacy of class and race prejudice that made poor Southern blacks susceptible to wrongful imprisonment and execution. Stevenson’s persistent efforts spared McMillian from that ultimate fate, and the author’s experience with the flaws in the American justice system add extra gravity to a deeply disturbing and oft-overlooked topic. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“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

“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. . . . You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. Against tremendous odds, Stevenson has worked to free scores of people from wrongful or excessive punishment, arguing five times before the Supreme Court. . . . 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. . . . Stevenson has been angry about [the criminal justice system] for years, and we are all the better for it.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review
 
“A distinguished NYU law professor and MacArthur grant recipient offers the compelling story of the legal practice he founded to protect the rights of people on the margins of American society. . . . 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, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham
 
“From the frontlines of social justice comes one of the most urgent voices of our era. Bryan Stevenson is a real-life, modern-day Atticus Finch who, through his work in redeeming innocent people condemned to death, has sought to redeem the country itself. This is a book of great power and courage. It is inspiring and suspenseful—a revelation.”—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns
 
“Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
 
“Words such as important and compelling may have lost their force through overuse, but reading this book will restore their meaning, along with one’s hopes for humanity.”—Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
 
“Bryan Stevenson is America’s young Nelson Mandela, a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all. Just Mercy should be read by people of conscience in every civilized country in the world to discover what happens when revenge and retribution replace justice and mercy. It is as gripping to read as any legal thriller, and what hangs in the balance is nothing less than the soul of a great nation.”—Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-08-05
A distinguished NYU law professor and MacArthur grant recipient offers the compelling story of the legal practice he founded to protect the rights of people on the margins of American society. Stevenson began law school at Harvard knowing only that the life path he would follow would have something to do with [improving] the lives of the poor." An internship at the Atlanta-based Southern Prisoners Defense Committee in 1983 not only put him into contact with death row prisoners, but also defined his professional trajectory. In 1989, the author opened a nonprofit legal center, the Equal Justice Initiative, in Alabama, a state with some of the harshest, most rigid capital punishment laws in the country. Underfunded and chronically overloaded by requests for help, his organization worked tirelessly on behalf of men, women and children who, for reasons of race, mental illness, lack of money and/or family support, had been victimized by the American justice system. One of Stevenson's first and most significant cases involved a black man named Walter McMillian. Wrongly accused of the murder of a white woman, McMillian found himself on death row before a sentence had even been determined. Though EJI secured his release six years later, McMillian "received no money, no assistance [and] no counseling" for the imprisonment that would eventually contribute to a tragic personal decline. In the meantime, Stevenson would also experience his own personal crisis. "You can't effectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression, or injustice and not be broken by it," he writes. Yet he would emerge from despair, believing that it was only by acknowledging brokenness that individuals could begin to understand the importance of tempering imperfect justice with mercy and compassion. Emotionally profound, necessary reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812994537
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/21/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 240
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I was on edge a good deal of the time while reading Just Mercy,

    I was on edge a good deal of the time while reading Just Mercy, much as I would be while reading a legal thriller, only these were accounts of actual people, actual trials, actual tragedies. Victims of wrongful condemnation. Incarcerated women and children abused behind prison walls. Racism, classism, and other -isms that feed off of insecurity, ignorance, fear.

    Oh, I was previously aware, on a modest level, of the kind of inequities that Bryan Stevenson’s book brings to light concerning the nation’s criminal justice system, so there wasn’t anything particularly shocking here for me. But my conviction around humanity’s ongoing need for empathy and compassion was strengthened while reading through this compelling, and many times heartbreaking, account.

    Stevenson’s work makes it quite clear that there’s so much more to be done to advance justice and mercy, which we all need. Yet, even incremental victories bring us closer to something better, and this book’s power is in its carrying and conveying the hope that better is indeed possible when we believe and work for it.

    This should prove to be a timely narrative for millions of people.
    __________________
    I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A powerful, inspiring story and journey for criminal justice!

    A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, a powerful, inspiring story and journey of one man’s fight, Bryan Stevenson. Beginning as an intern at Atlanta-based Southern Prisoners Defense Committee in 1983, which would connect and lead him on a path which would not only change his life, but history, and others who needed him desperately to be their voice, in a poor and inadequate criminal justice system.

    Wow, this is one powerful book, I devoured! As a former whistleblower in one the first SOX cases in the US making it to the federal level in an unprecedented law, I am all about justice and helping those who cannot help themselves, in order to set a precedent and change the course of history. However, unfortunately with any fight, comes obstacles, challenges, time, and despair, as there are some who do not wish misdeeds to be uncovered and brought front and center.

    Totally captivating, a book, you will not be able to put down. Readers learn the story of Walter McMillian, a black man from southern Alabama, who was accused by a white con-main of two murders, although the snitch had never even met him and was under investigation himself for one of the murders! Through a series of bogus legal situations, police harassment, racism, and phony testimony, McMillian found himself on Alabama’s death row, which unfortunately happened often with poor Southern blacks susceptible to wrongful imprisonment and execution. Fortunately, Stevenson’s persistent efforts, spared this man.

    As you read, you may think you are reading a work of fiction (similar to the recent book, which I loved, and recommend, The Color of Justice by Ace Collins ; however, Just Mercy, is real, true to life, even though as suspenseful and intense as fiction; it is a non-fiction sad account, which clearly voices the flaws in our American justice system.

    My heart goes out to Stevenson, as in any fight of this nature, the personal crisis suffered when fighting for equality, power, and justice, as emotionally profound. Bryan Stevenson is a hero, an influential crusader for justice today, and deserves to be supported for his work, and his courage in the writing of this extraordinary memoir. I hope all Americans will support him and his cause, and be a voice to help our country -A positive message for us all with the power to transform. Well Done. Highly Recommend!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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