New York Times bestseller. From one of the country’s most visionary legal thinkers, social justice advocates, and MacArthur “genius,” this is an intimate and unforgettable narrative journey into the broken American criminal justice system.
When Bryan Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988, he headed south to Alabama, a state on the verge of a crisis: the state was speeding up executions, but many of the condemned lacked anyone to represent them. On a shoestring budget he started the Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people. Among the first cases he took on was that of Walter McMillian, a black man from Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case would change Bryan’s life and transform his understanding of justice and mercy forever. Just Mercy is the story of the education of a young lawyer fighting on the frontlines of a country in thrall to extreme punishments and careless justice. It follows the suspenseful battle to free Walter before the state executed him, while also telling other dramatic and profoundly moving stories of men, women, and children, innocent and guilty, who found themselves at the mercy of a system often incapable of showing it. This is a exquisitely rendered account of a heroic advocate’s fights on behalf of the most powerless people in our society and a powerful indictment of our broken justice system.