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I have a little over an hour commute each way 5 days a week. I've been listening to audio books during my commute just over two years. It’s made a big difference in my life. Now I feel guilty on the days I just listen to the radio.
Narrators play an important role.
I was so happy to learn that the author narrated this book. However, he’s a little bit flat. The first hour or so of the book was pretty dry and I didn’t know if I would even continue listening. I’m so glad I did. It’s been a long time since a book really made stop and think. I had to keep pausing the audio to take a few minutes to think about things.
When I would share pieces of the book with friends or co-workers and tell them how troubling/alarming I felt certain instances were their responses were pretty similar. They all said something along the lines of there had to be more to it and someone couldn’t possibly be sent to death row or prison at those ages/for those crimes. I would nod and say ‘you have to read it.’
Around this same time at a work lunch the topic of the death penalty came up. One of my co-workers strongly voiced her support of the death penalty and said things like what are we waiting for? Why does it take so long? Just kill them and save us some money. My stomach knotted. This is my co-worker, who I genuinely like and trust and value the opinion of. I just responded, “but, sometimes we get it wrong.’
This book made me question our justice system on every level, my country, my peers and myself. That’s a first. Even with all that required reading in my past.
There were many moments that really hit me in my core. But, one stand out moment, was when the author, as a young black law student was stopped by police in his own neighborhood for doing absolutely nothing, and was compelled to run. That is where the book grabbed me and sucked me in. Of course it would be his instinct to run and how terrifying what the outcome could have been if he’d followed his instinct. When he mentioned that his neighbors started coming out I initially felt relief and thought well thank goodness, they will give those cops the what for and set them straight! But… no. They didn’t do that.
Spending a good chunk of my early childhood in a pretty poor neighborhood I knew that cops and justice aren’t always exactly good or fair. And I saw a few alarming things even in a middle class predominantly white neighborhood in my teenage years. And, of course we’ve all been watching the news the last few years. So I didn’t go into this book with rose colored glasses. But, I had no idea what I was in for.
Bryan Stevenson is one of the good guys. One of those people that you call angels on earth. We should all thank God for him and his work and his commitment to the forgotten, neglected or misjudged.
24 of 26 people found this review helpful
Unfairness and racism in the Justice System is a major them of our age. DNA analysis exposes false convictions on regular bases. The predominance of racial minorities in jail and prisons denote a systemic bias. “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson is a memoir that personalizes the struggle against injustice in the story of one activist attorney. The information in this book covers many years but its message could not be more important considering what is happening around the country. For example the problems in Ferguson Missouri and other cities with the police killing black suspects.
Stevenson grew up poor in Delaware. His great-great parents had been slaves in Virginia. His grandfather was murdered in a Philadelphia housing project when Stevenson was a teenager. The author attended Eastern University and then Harvard Law School. He represented poor client when he worked for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta Georgia. Later he moved to Montgomery Alabama and co founded the Equal Justice Initiative.
The book tells the story of some of his clients. Its narrative backbone is the story of Walter McMillan a death row case from the 1980s. McMillan lived in Monroeville Alabama the home of Harper Lee who wrote the book “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Stevenson also tells the about the case of Evan Miller age 14 who got a life sentence for murder. Stevenson took the case to the United States Supreme Court in 2012. The Court held that mandatory life sentences without parole for children violated the eighth amendment.
The book is a page turner. But it is also a book of hope. The author’s faith in both the power of redemption and the possibility of justice keeps him and other like him challenging the unjust system and laws.
I have this past year been reading about the Supreme Court. I noted a lot of 5 to 4 splits by the court. This book revealed that in the author’s civil case against a District Attorney who knowingly and with malice withheld evidence that proved the defendant not guilty. The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 ruling stated that the DA could not be held accountable even if he purposefully committed a crime. Justice Ginsberg wrote an outstanding dissenting opinion in the case.
I could not put the book down; it is full of information on a justice system and social order that needs to be transformed. The author narrated the book.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Lots to reflect on our own society, the story challenges the reader to heal the hurt in their society and that it can be done.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Performance and story are all perfect. Really do hope more people read to empower people to fight for what is right in society.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A remarkable account on human injustice and how even small actions can make a difference.
If you are for or against capital punishment you should read this book to help you determine why you believe what you do.
Engaging story with a great narrative.
An amazing book and opens the eyes and the heart.
How sad that despite knowing how precious life is, it can be treated with such contempt.
Yet - there is hope.