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.
Just Mercy begins with information about Bryan Stevenson growing up poor in a racially segregated community in Delaware. He remembers his grandmother telling him, "You can't understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close". How does Stevenson get close to the incarcerated people he is helping? How does getting close to Walter McMillian affect Stevenson's life? Can you be an effective criminal lawyer without getting close?
As a result of his extensive work with low income and incarcerated people, Stevenson concludes that "the opposite of poverty is not wealth: the opposite of poverty is justice". What does this statement mean? What examples in the book inform Stevenson's position on poverty and justice? What is justice? What does "Just Mercy" mean?
Many United States citizens will find this book painful to read, demoralizing and even shameful. What kind(s) of emotional state(s) did the book bring up in you? Is this a book about combating racism? What do you think this book is about?