Why You Should Read Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” 

Do you have an empty area on your bookshelf just begging to be filled by a brilliant and captivating book that exposes one of the greatest social injustices of our time? Well, don’t stress yourself out about it! Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” is calling for that spot! 

Bryan Stevenson is a public interest lawyer, an author, and a social justice advocate; he is also a founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization, in Montgomery, Alabama. Much of his work is dedicated to helping “the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” He has led EJI to success in major legal challenges, such as “eliminating excessive/unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.”

 

Bryan Stevenson’ “Just Mercyis a memoir of his journey through the field of law. The memoir starts from the beginning of his law career, through internship experiences and continues on throughout his more recent experiences, describing specific cases he took on during his time as a lawyer. Bryan’s descriptions of such cases are nothing less than shocking. Before I read this book, I believed I had a decent level of awareness about atrocities that occur in within the US legal system. I now realize that I did not have the slightest clue about the degree of inequality that takes place. Stevenson describes horrific cases of children (yes, actual children) being sentenced to death for crimes they have committed, the guards’ failure/reluctance to protect these children, mentally handicapped inmates being sentenced to death, poor people being sentenced due to their inability to afford proper legal representation, and many other gruesome accounts that demonstrate the need for society’s awareness of these issues. 

 

The first time I came across this book was in an elective course I took during the Spring semester of 2019, called “Racism Through A Buddhist Lens”. This course introduced me to many interesting and inspiring reads, such as Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ “When They Call You a Terrorist”, Mycal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching,” and Debbie Irving’s “Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race(all of which are books I highly regard and would recommend); however, Stevenson’s “Just Mercy,” as aforementioned stood out to me the most.

 

Although I read this book as a requirement for one of my classes, it has definitely navigated its way to the top of my list of favorite books. Even if you have no interest in law, I would highly recommend you give the book a glance. As global citizens, it is our duty to inform ourselves of social injustices and do whatever we can contribute to the betterment of society.