Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 261
In Just Mercy, attorney and author Bryan Stevenson uses the case of Walter McMillan to expose racial injustice and corruption in the American legal system and highlight the need for reform. He tells the story of McMillan’s case, and he also brings into the story the cases of other people who suffered similar injustices. In doing so, he sheds light on court procedures and practices that have assaulted the freedoms of women, children, African American men, and the mentally ill. Stevenson’s main argument is that mercy is the key to justice and that treating all human beings accused of crimes with dignity and respect is the only way we can ensure that our criminal justice system protects the rights and freedoms of the citizens it serves.
Stevenson shows that the current system of criminal justice protects the rich, even if they are guilty, and condemns the poor, even if they are innocent. He also shows that fear and anger are pervasive in society and detrimental to justice. Stevenson argues that to treat people with dignity and show them mercy means to make an attempt to understand their circumstances in an effort to explain their behavior. For this reason, he includes in his book the personal stories of people who were victimized by the system. By telling their stories, he paints a picture of these people as human beings who have rights and privileges equal to those of any other human beings, but whose lives and personal stories, in a system rife with racial prejudice, have been misinterpreted and misunderstood.
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