Last Updated 14 Nov 2022

A Review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Category Justice, Poverty
Words 744 (2 pages)
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Bryan Stevenson's book Just Mercy examines the injustice of our world, particularly the legal system. Whether we may not commonly discuss about it, we all seem to understand how race contributes to unethical and bias laws. This corrupt world truly needs this book in order to explain why we still must protest and acknowledge equal rights despite the many reforms. This is exactly what author Bryan Stevenson, American lawyer, and social justice activist, did throughout his career. He utilizes the stories of many individuals such as Walter McMillan who was falsely convicted, and wrongfully sentenced. It's evident that Stevenson portrays an ideal exemplification of demonstrating mercy, a feeling that is often absent within the lives of those living in an unjust system of social justice, is ignited.

Stevenson uses rhetorical analysis by providing a personal experience of political injustice and racial justice in America to demonstrate that the United States criminal justice system is extremely corrupt. By mentioning in his introduction how he was a young Harvard Law student, he improves his expertise and reputation simply by being involved and devoting his full attention to his cases. In the Walter McMillan case, Stevenson mentions how this case taught him that there is light within this darkness. He clearly witnessed many great and bad outcomes, which helped him develop a more positive outlook on upcoming trials. He pledges his entire will and professionalism to disseminate information, on the subject hoping that society will evolve by combating the corrupt ways of criminal justice. By analyzing his own experience with court cases and analytics that revolves around racial disparities he is informing others and providing sufficient evidence to show how there needs to be change.

Furthermore, Stenson was able to emphasize empathy and a sense of anguish in the defendants. He manipulates the reader's emotions to have a greater grasp of the inequalities of the justice system. The narrative of Charlie is presented, a fourteen-year-old boy who was convicted and sentenced to adult prison and by creating sympathy from his audience, “He couldn't complete his statement because he was weeping so hard. He grasped my jacket with a power I hadn't believe he was capable of..." (Stevenson 124). This ultimately entails how this harsh procedure can be emotionally draining to defendants who lack proper care and usually deal with abuse in prison. In this case, he reflects on his responsibility and power to create meaningful reforms.

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Stevenson's mindset and determination throughout the book, indicates how every individual deserves justice even if they did something bad. He states “My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice" (Stevenson 18). Based on prior knowledge and experience he is able to resonate why certain people, especially minorities are usually taken advantage of. The under-represented are usually judged quickly based on their race, status, or class.

Police brutality and racial profiling are major issues that still continue to threaten the rights of individuals. The Lourida Ruffin, an African American case is one of the many cases that tends to get ignored and lost. He was stopped and beaten by police officers due to a minor problem which could have been handled in a more professional manner. Stevenson grieved with the family and understood that Mr. Ruffin, was an innocent man who didn't have to suffer which led to a fatal death. Stevenson clearly takes every case seriously as he considers every flaw from this corrupt system. The author states "suicide, prisoner-on-prisoner violence, inadequate medical care, staff abuse, and guard violence claimed the lives of hundreds of prisoners every year" (Stevenson 37).

Even Stevenson was targeted and regarded with suspicion by police officers, due to the color of his skin. This incident helps the readers understand how not everyone can rely and trust on law enforcement. Instead of police officers seeking proper training on how to approach people; African American have to evaluate their own instincts, even if they are innocent Bryan Stevenson reveals many unlawful cases and does everything in his power to fight for those who lack certain resources to support themselves. Throughout his journey, he was able to establish mercy and justice. Just by explaining each case thoroughly, Stevenson shows his dedication and willingness to speak the truth behind the criminal justice system. Stevenson does a great job in delivering this theme of hope and resilience, which is why this book has made a great impact in today's world.

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