“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us.” -Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy
“Just Mercy” written by Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, who recounts his story of fighting social injustice, prejudice, discrimination and racism in the U.S. judicial system, defending Black Americans wrongfully condemned to death penalty sentences by all-white juries, with “circumstantial” evidence from “witnesses” who agree to testify in exchange for a reduced sentence in unrelated cases all throughout the country, but most notably in the Deep South.
This book was sobering and heartbreaking. It details the way in which a person’s prejudice equates to life-term sentences for children, even death by execution, oftentimes, for an elected judge’s own personal gain, to show he is “tough on crime.” It points out to major problems in the way that the criminal justice system works and how remnants of slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and persistent racism in America has infiltrated and corrupted it in such a way as to “stack the deck” against the poor, and minorities in specific.
This book is very important in our day and age. It is a catalyst for change that needs to be heeded by citizens and lawmakers alike that we demand change. We want to see things swing back to rehabilitation and restoration instead of incarceration. We want to see “just mercy” for those who are accused of a crime to truly have a chance to defend themselves. It might “cost” the country more upfront, but the long-term benefits versus the adverse effects are hard to ignore. We cannot keep doing things the way we have been. The status quo is not working. It needs to change.