Book Review: “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson

Mr. Stevenson should wear a cape or win the Nobel Peace Prize (My prediction). He’s like a modern Atticus Finch as in the novel “To Kill a Mocking Bird.” He saved many people from the death rows unjustly convicted because of the sloppy police work, being young and ignorant, mentally retarded (like Horace Dunkins), but mostly being poor. “The opposite of poverty is not wealth but justice,” as he’s often quoted. He wants to do more than Atticus Finch accomplished, where the jailed black man in the novel did not have a good ending.

My key takeaways are:
– The Walter McMillian case is an epitome of the racial injustice in this country especially in the south like the state of Alabama. It can be attributed to the prevailing racial bigotry against blacks especially ones that are relatively successful, uneasiness about interracial relationship (he had an extramarital affair with a white woman), and the legal maneuver of the over zealous prosecutors without concerns for the truths, and inertia of the legal system to not “rock the boat” or boosting the judges’ chance of being elected by acting tough and winning the votes. Of course, the biggest contributor to injustice is their poverty – not having enough money to get proper legal representation. Sad to see attorneys fighting over the budgeted $1,000 legal fee for a capital (death-sentence) case.

– Mr. Stevenson makes very arguments about turning away from executing juveniles in capital cases and reducing the sentences of the juvenile non-capital cases. Yes, we were all young and stupid in our youths. For those unlucky ones not having the proper adult supervision, they would go astray and got themselves in huge troubles. They deserve a second look and mercy.

– For the past years, I myself have gradually moved away from believing in capital punishment to one against it. In addition to legal costs, the margin of error is simply too large for this legal system, despite being one of the best in the world. Of course, this means the innocent ones may get locked up for life without the news focus of death sentence.

– The books are relative lopsided on the side of the unjustly accused and punished. Would be good for Mr. Stevenson to present the other side – those that are justly accused – to be more impartial.

– Mr. Stevenson is very good at telling stories. The book reads like a novels, full of intrigues and twists.

– This is an excellent book on show how disadvantaged a person can get in trouble in this legal justice systems especially if you’re poor, young without supervision, being a women and just being black, or in his words – “broken.” I’m not sure he and his Equal Justice Initiative can save all but he’s making a difference in turning the tide.

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