Published: January 2015
WINNER OF THE 2015 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE 2015 DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NAACP IMAGE AWARD FOR BEST NON-FICTION
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.
PRAISE FOR BRYAN STEVENSON
'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.' The 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.' The Washington Post