His book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, captured me from the beginning, when as a young law student he met his first death row inmate. He saw the individual behind the criminal and realized how he wanted to use his law degree. He tells a little of his own background, and what he learned from it. His grandma played a significant part in his life. She used to hold him close and say, "you can't understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close."
He goes on to explain how we can't allow fear and anger to shape how we treat the most vulnerable. His book introduces us to many people who spent years paying for crimes they never committed. Their biggest crimes, in fact, were being poor and/or non-white. I remember writing a paper for college, many years ago, and citing a stanza from a Phil Ochs song:
In the courtroom, watch the balance of the scales
If the price is right, there's time for more appeals
The strings are pulled, the switch is stayed
The finest lawyers' fees are paid
And a rich man never died upon the chair
In those days Phil Ochs lyrics made me want to fight the system. Today I am happy that there are men like Bryan Stevenson who do that for us every day.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is an interesting book that will make you rethink much about the system that is supposed to keep all of us safe.
Publisher - Spiegel & Grau
Date of Publication - October 21, 2014