The Fight for Justice
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, located in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Initiative’s mission is to reopen cases for condemned prisoners who were inappropriately accused and are serving time, sometimes on death row. Most are persons of color and are poverty stricken.
One of the prisoners he helped says: “Capital punishment means those without capital get the punishment.”
Stevenson relates how he began this work and then introduces several prisoners who gained freedom or redress thanks to his organization’s efforts. For some, he is unable to gain release, but does get a reduction in their sentence. He still considers this “a failure of justice.”
The elements he documents often include:
• Lack of evidence.
• Unreliable testimonies.
• Prosecutorial misconduct.
• Racially discriminatory jury selection.
• An improper change of venue.
Stevenson documents prejudice from law enforcement as well as the judicial system. He is stunned by the inhumane treatment he encounters in prisons. And yet, amazingly, the people whose release he gains are often patient and forgiving in the face of such inequities.
This is a painful book to read, but an important story.
Kerry Pettis is a retired elementary school teacher and children’s librarian who has lived in Broomfield since 1975. Reading is her favorite occupation.