Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 505
Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, has devoted his career and his life to pursuing redemption, justice, and equity for the downtrodden, wrongly accused, broken, vulnerable, and poor of America. One of Stevenson's very first cases was defending a young man named Walter McMillian who was wrongfully convicted of murder.
In his book, Just Mercy, Stevenson appeals to his readers to consider the needs of humanity one person at a time while seeking empathy and mercy, not condemnation:
There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can't otherwise see; you hear things you can't otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.
In chapter six of his book, Stevenson recounts working with a small, thin, fourteen-year-old client named Charlie who killed his mother's abusive boyfriend, George. One night, after George had brutally hit Charlie's mother and she lay on the ground unconscious and bleeding, Charlie thought she was dead. Charlie then shot George. While not condoning Charlie's choice to pull the trigger, Stevenson believes that young prisoners still need a chance at mercy and redemption:
Each of us is more than the worst thing we've done.
Additionally, Stevenson argues that the US justice system must address unjust practices. In Charlie's situation, George was a police officer. So, lawyers fought to have Charlie tried as an adult for George's murder. During his first few nights in jail, Charlie was badly abused and beaten by other inmates. Stevenson argues against such inhumane and unfair conditions.
Likewise, he shares that
[o]nly a handful of countries permitted the death penalty for children—and the United States was one of them. Many of my...
(The entire section contains 505 words.)
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