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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  81,640 ratings  ·  11,935 reviews
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned,
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Spiegel & Grau
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  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
    Release date: Aug 18, 2015
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    Angie This is an excellent book club book. Lots of issues for good discussions.…moreThis is an excellent book club book. Lots of issues for good discussions. (less)
    Chase Lin I am nearly thirteen and I believe it is very interesting, This is one of the best books I have read about justice for all race, other than to kill a…moreI am nearly thirteen and I believe it is very interesting, This is one of the best books I have read about justice for all race, other than to kill a mockingbird. This is an amazing book for a thirteen year old. You adults are underestimating our ability to understand a book. (less)

    Community Reviews

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    Average rating 4.64  · 
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     ·  81,640 ratings  ·  11,935 reviews

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    John Grisham
    Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
    Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God's work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.
    Jennifer Masterson
    Re-read. This time via audio. Bryan Stevenson is in the Netflix documentary the 13th. I just watched it. I highly recommend it!

    I'm late to the party so there is not much for me to say about this book that has not already been said. What I will say is that This is a Very Important Book! If you have not read it you must!!! It should be required reading for high school. I had no idea the injustice that occurred in this country when it came to death row. I live in a state in which the death penalty
    Elyse  Walters
    Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
    I just stepped out of the theater seeing this film!!!
    It’s absolutely extraordinary… Incredible…
    I can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope it wins best picture of the year… Best actors… Best everything!!!!!

    Bring Kleenex!!!

    “We must reform a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent".

    "Capital murder requires an intent to kill, and there was a persuasive
    Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    Recommends it for: Those whose concern is Justice
    Recommended to Lawyer by:
    Just Mercy: Following the Road Less Taken

    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption was chosen as a Group Read for June, 2015, by On the Southern Literary Trail. My special thanks to Jane, my good friend who nominated this selection.

     photo Stevenson_zpsjykyqcqm.jpg
    Bryan Stevenson

    Bryan Stevenson has written a compelling memoir with Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. This is an important work which should be read by any individual who is concerned with the concept of Justice and incidents of Injustice that
    May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    I often think that my grandparents and parents lived in interesting times. They saw so many things come about in their day. Theirs were exciting times. Women won the right to vote, slaves were freed, and medical advancements were plenty. It was the time of The Industrial Revolution, electricity, the telephone, planes, trains, and automobiles so to speak. I tend to downplay the important breakthroughs of my life and times, Television, Computers, a second industrial revolution of Technology, ...more
    Lindsay - Traveling Sister
    Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
    4 stars! What a powerful and inspiring book! Please note, if this was a review of the author, Bryan Stevenson's, career and life story, my rating would be 5+ stars. Words cannot adequately describe how I feel about this selfless man who has spent his career fighting for justice for those who need it most. My rating of 4 stars is simply my review of this book (which is obviously what this site is about). My impression of and respect for Bryan Stevenson as an individual is extremely high and would ...more
    Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing

    Well, I suspect it'll drag you kicking and screaming from your happy place, but I defy you to read Bryan Stevenson's remarkable Just Mercy and not come away affected in some way. If you are at all interested in racial and/or sociopolitical injustice, specifically as it applies to our country's (and more specifically, my adoptive home state, Alabama's) seriously flawed justice and penal systems, this is the book for you. Absolutely haunting, heartbreaking, and unforgettable.

    Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing

    “Mercy is just when it is rooted in hopefulness and freely given.”

    Let me be honest. I would never have picked this book to read on my own. But it was my church book club selection.

    This is a powerful, scary book. A young black lawyer takes on death penalty appeal cases in Alabama. And he does this because Alabama didn’t provide public defenders for those appeal cases. The book delves into all the aspects of the legal system. It also speaks poignantly on the effects of the larger community when
    Debbie "DJ"
    Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
    With all the recent protests across the nation, sparked by the high-profile deaths of several unarmed black men, this is an incredibly timely read.

    This book is an account of the author, Bryan Stevenson, and his life calling. Stevenson first began helping death row prisoners, mostly black, who had had no legal defense of any kind. He discovered there were thousands who were completely innocent. This led him to start an organization called the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) which is still going
    J.L.   Sutton
    May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the U.S. justice system (or curious about why some people don’t feel they receive equal treatment under the law). In Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson presents what could be dry statistics or empty outrages as stories about real people. However, these stories aren’t just about people, but the towns and cities where horrible crimes were committed (sparking cries for justice) and the flawed mechanisms we have for ...more
    Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
    We never read anything in a vacuum. Every book is filtered through the lens of experience, history and daily life.

    It may have been a coincidence that I read Just Mercy only days after a horrific mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, but it didn't feel like chance. Having such fresh evidence of racism and violence in the South made the events discussed in this book all the more real.

    Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer in Alabama who works to defend the poor and the
    Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: audiobook
    There is nothing I can write to do justice to this exceptional book. Really, the only thing to say is "Read it!". But here are a few thoughts: Just Mercy is both horrifying and awe inspiring. I listened to the audio of Just Mercy as read by the author, Bryan Stevenson. I listened to it in 40 minute daily increments as I walked to work or for exercise. Each time I had to turn the audio off, I found it hard to disengage from everything Stevenson has to say about his work as the founder of the ...more
    Iris P
    Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
    "I…believe that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth… I actually think, in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice… Ultimately, you judge the character of a society, not by how they treat their rich and the powerful and the privileged, but by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated. Because it's in that nexus that we actually begin to
    Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is a 2014 Spiegel & Grau publication.

    This book came to my attention from a couple of Goodreads friends. Their amazing reviews convinced me this book was one I should, and needed, to read.

    “We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope of healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity”

    This man. Bryan Stevenson. Are there
    Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favorites
    Just Mercy was heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I felt a wide range of emotions while reading it, including sadness, anger, and frustration. I knew our system is broken but I wasn't aware to what extent. It was infuriating to read how far behind the times some states are, most notably, Alabama.

    Before reading this book, I was fairly confident in my views re: the death penalty, and punishments by imprisonment in general. This book changed my views on some things. Bryan Stevenson is a
    Lauren Cecile
    Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favorites
    Excellent! Especially for readers who care about social justice, inequality in the justice system or abolishing the death penalty. It is already abstractly known that minorities, poor people, mentally disabled and un-parented children are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and Bryan Stevenson gives us an up-close and personal look at many of these people. Judges, police, prosecutors, jailers, politicians, etc. can be very obtuse and uncaring about them and are given ...more
    Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: favorites-2019
    Harrowing, but brilliantly done.
    May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: nonfiction
    The Force of Forked Lightning

    Author and civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson has some hard bark on him: for dozens of years now, traveling into the backwater towns of Alabama (and other places in the South) to defend and save the lives of inmates, many of whom were railroaded onto death row. He centers his soul-sparking memoir on the especially egregious case of Walter McMillian in Monroe County, AL, interspersed with brief sketches of examples nationwide proving particular types of injustices in
    Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
    "Capital punishment means them without the capital get the punishment."

    I discovered this book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, on display in my local public library and there was something about the title which implored me to pick it up. I had never heard the name Bryan Stevenson before picking up this book and I wasn't aware of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice he had started to defend the most vulnerable and desperate in our society. Now, Bryan Stevenson is someone
    Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    An absolute must-read book for anyone interested in the integrity of the justice system in the U.S. This book will make you cry, seethe, and grab everyone you know by their lapels and say to them, "Do you know this is happenening?!?! How can this be?!?!?!"

    The author is an attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. The book highlights several cases of people wrongly imprisoned, and sentenced to death, for crimes they clearly did not commit. In other cases, while crimes were committed
    Julie Christine
    “… the death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?

    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption chronicles the founding, growth, and work of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). EJI is “a private, nonprofit that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.

    We litigate on behalf of
    Content Warning: This is a dark review of a very dark subject. Reader discretion is advised.

    Joe Sullivan was thirteen years old when he was arrested.

    Mentally disabled, neglected and abused, the product of a chaotic home, Joe could barely read at a first grade level and grew up mostly on the streets.

    On May 4, 1989, with two older boys, he broke into an empty house in Pensacola, Florida. Later, the elderly owner of the house was brutally raped. The woman never saw the man who raped her. When the
    Cathrine ☯️
    For the book and for the author in recognition of his incredible work on behalf of those wrongly convicted to death or life in prison caught up in a system of blind justice and no hope.
    Read by the author, this was compelling from start to finish and deserving of all the recognition and awards. I had no idea, really. All emotions possible will hit the reader; consciousness will be raised.
    The film version has an expected U.S. release in January 2020 but read it first.
    Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
    “Why do we want to kill all the broken people?”-Bryan Stevenson

    “I don’t do what I do because I have to, because I’ve been trained to. I do what I do because I’m broken too. You cannot defend condemned people without being broken."-Bryan Stevenson

    Eye-opening, heart-wrenching nonfiction account that tore me apart. The above quotes sum it up. There's nothing else to say. We are all broken people.

    This is a great read to pair with the fictional book The Enchanted. This may need to be a reread.
    Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Overall, the lessons to be learned in this book are shattering. Prisons in the United States are an apparatus for stigmatizing and exiling those who we were once told would be rehabilitated. Then there are the innocent ones who have been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. Bryan Stevenson writes of his transformation from fear to courage and commitment as a young lawyer to come to their defense. He writes of the legacy of racism and other constructs of power and privilege that continue ...more
    There is definitely something amiss with my view of crime. I read crime mysteries and police procedurals for pleasure, but reading about crime from the other side—innocence and guilt or suspects and law or the possibility that the criminal justice system can be wrong—makes me anxious and fretful. I don’t like crime. It seems like weakness.

    What I have come to see is that crime can occur on either side of a prosecution or conviction: the accused can be guilty of weakness or legal counsel can be
    Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Sue by: Kris
    This is a must read book for anyone interested in and/or concerned about the American system of justice.

    I always intended to write a full review of this book but instead have decided to provide a link to a review written by a Goodreads friend. I hope you will read this.

    This is a book which deserves to be read at a time when issues of justice are on every thinking person's mind. Justice must be served "justly" or our system simply will not work. Our system
    Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2014
    When I first encountered Bryan Stevenson, I was in the middle of tearing pages out of Smithsonian Magazine. Before any reading material made it to my students at the state juvenile correctional facility, I first had to remove any questionable content. Smithsonian was generally safe, but I was quickly drawn into a story profiling Stevenson and Why Mass Incarceration Defines Us As a Society. After finishing the story myself, I made sure it found its way to as many of my students as possible. I ...more
    Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Recommends it for: sarah dessen
    Recommended to Tatiana by: not sarah dessen
    Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
    This book will make your blood boil.

    While I would have preferred some more nuance in this work (the author cherry picks the most outrageous examples of injustice and the most compelling inmates to argue his cause, understandably so, the majority of us don't possess the amount of empathy Bryan has for people, even the most despicable ones), what Stevenson has done throughout his career to make our world a little bit less awful and a little bit more just, is no less than heroic. His work is hard
    Valerity (Val)
    This is just an awesome story of a lawyer who made it his life’s work to fight for the underdog and do all he can to get them justice. He started a non-profit legal office in Alabama to help people in need of serious legal help like those facing execution, the wrongly convicted, teens sentenced to die in prison and others. He spends long hours working, searching for funding, visiting prisoners, and working on cases. After you get so far in the book, you can see why it’s won several awards, and ...more
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    What's Next?: Book Review: Just Mercy 1 3 Jan 12, 2020 08:37AM  

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    Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

    Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias
    “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” 283 likes
    “Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. 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. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” 188 likes
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