Righting the Wrongs of a Wayward Justice System| Book Review

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Law

Synopsis: “From one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time comes an unforgettable true story about the redeeming potential of our mercy. Bryan Stevenson was a gifted young attorney when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillan. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinkmanship, and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.”

I first heard of this book two years ago as a university student. At the time I wanted to read it, but never got the chance. As I was browsing my local Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago I spotted this book and decided to purchase it.

Within its pages are the stories of many people who got lost and forgotten in America’s quest for a no-nonsense criminal justice approach. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, all swept up by the War on Drugs and tough on crime policies of the 1980s and 1990s. Bryan Stevenson, newly minted lawyer from Harvard, moved down to Alabama in the 1980s to represent the poor, incarcerated, and condemned.

Bryan tells the stories of Walter McMillan, his first client, and of Joe Sullivan, Anthony Ray Hinton, Marsha Colbey, and countless others he has represented and how each case altered his perspective on the criminal justice system and the ways race, poverty, and mental illness affected those in the system.

Through his work Bryan saw how truly broken we all are and how our brokenness lead to destructive and illogical decision-making in regard to how we deem justice served. This book was a welcome read in connecting our present approach to crime and punishment with our sordid, deep-rooted past of racism, classism, and obsessive need to be right at any cost.

Bryan’s organization, the Equal Justice Initiative continues to work on behalf of the accused and Bryan has spoken at various conferences and schools discussing criminal justice reform and sharing stories of hope and redemption.

This book gave me a deeper understanding and knowledge of the laws that drive our criminal justice system and how our past still heavily influences our present concerning what is fair and justice.

I give this book 5 stars and recommend that you all give it a read. Especially those interested in the criminal justice system and the effect on society.

If you are interested in purchasing this book it is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and through Goodreads. I purchased a paper copy for $16 at my local B&N.

Bryan Stevenson can be reached at his website. To inquire about a possible appearance, contact the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at speakers@penguin-randomhouse.com or 212-572-2013.

Information about the Equal Justice Initiative can be obtained at their website or email them at contact_us@eji.org.



8 thoughts on “Righting the Wrongs of a Wayward Justice System| Book Review

  1. Thank you for sharing! I’m one class away from earning my Paralegal Studies degree, and I’ve always been interested in books like these. I’ll be on the lookout for it at my local library!

    Liked by 1 person

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