A powerful, bold true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix America's broken system of justice — from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. The prison population has increased from 300,000 in the early 1970s to more than two million now. One in every 15 people is expected to go to prison. For black men, the most incarcerated group in America, this figure rises to one out of every three.
Bryan Stevenson grew up a member of a poor black community in the racially segregated South. He 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 the US's criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young black 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, startling racial inequality, and legal brinksmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted lawyer's coming of age, a moving portrait of the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.
About the Author
Bryan Stephenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Since graduating from Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, he has secured 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 colour. He has won numerous awards, and is on the faculty of New York University Law School.
`Bryan Stevenson is America's young Nelson Mandela - a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all.' - Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate`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`This is so important. Stevenson explains how deep-rooted racism is, while giving hope that it doesn't have to exist.' - Gloria Steinem`Our American criminal justice system has become an instrument of evil. Bryan Stevenson has labored long and hard, and with great skill and temperate passion, to set things right. 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`Just Mercy is as deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty, and the failures of the administration of criminal justice ... [It] will make you gasp at the inhumanity of humankind.' - Raymond Bonner, Financial Times`Powerful ... This book will shock, anger and inspire you.' - Sunday Independent (Ireland)`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: 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 ... Bryan Stevenson has been angry about [the criminal justice system] for years, and we are all the better for it.' - New York Times`Inspiring ... A work of style, substance and clarity ... Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he's also a gifted writer and storyteller.' - Washington Post`After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., I wrote a couple of columns entitled When Whites Just Don't Get It. The reaction to those columns - sometimes bewildered, resentful or unprintable - suggests to me that many whites in America don't understand the depths of racial inequity lingering in this country. This inequity is embedded in our law enforcement and criminal justice system, and that is why Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America's Mandela ... Stevenson, 54, grew up in a poor black neighborhood in Delaware and ended up at Harvard Law School. He started the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Ala., to challenge bias and represent the voiceless. It's a tale he recounts in a searing, moving and infuriating memoir.' - Nick Kristof, New York Times`Stevenson's contributions to social justice have been remarkable. But his efforts, on top of his continuing legal practice, to provide this inside glimpse of the criminal justice system are priceless.' - The Seattle Times`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`Emotionally profound, necessary reading.' - Kirkus Reviews`Stevenson reveals how much of a difference believing in someone and fighting their cause can make. An incredible story ... may help fuel the fire on your own journey.' - WellbeingBuy Product