Soon to be a major motion-picture starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson.
#1 New York Times bestseller, and a widely acclaimed and multi-award–winning book, this is a powerful, true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix America’s broken system of justice, as seen in the HBO documentary True Justice.
Bryan Stevenson 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 our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young 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, and legal brinkmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
It is now the subject of a major motion picture, starring Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx.
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
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Reading this revelatory memoir by a lawyer who’s dedicated his career to calling out the racist underpinnings of America’s criminal justice system is equal parts devastating and inspiring. Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, introduces us to a range of clients—some guilty, others innocent—whose lives have been curtailed, or even cut short, by gross miscarriages of justice, from shoddy legal representation to outrageous sentencing guidelines for young offenders. Stevenson’s portraits of grief and anger in the face of inequity and discrimination are complicated, humane and absolutely essential. Just Mercy will change the way you think about the law.
With a mandate to serve the poor and voiceless, Stevenson, a professor of law at New York University and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal firm providing services for the wrongly condemned, describes in his memoir how he got the call to represent this largely neglected clientele in our justice system. He notes that, with no parole in some states and a thriving private prison business that often pushes local governments to create new crimes and impose stiffer sentences, America has the world's highest incarceration rate and, at 2.3 million, its largest incarcerated population. In an early case during his career, Stevenson defended Walter McMillian, a black man from southern Alabama, who was accused by a white con-man of two murders, although the snitch had never even met him and was himself under investigation for one of the murders. Through a series of bogus legal situations, police harassment, racism, and phony testimony, McMillian found himself on Alabama's death row, fully aware of the legacy of class and race prejudice that made poor Southern blacks susceptible to wrongful imprisonment and execution. Stevenson's persistent efforts spared McMillian from that ultimate fate, and the author's experience with the flaws in the American justice system add extra gravity to a deeply disturbing and oft-overlooked topic.