Martin's Must Reads: 'Just Mercy'

Feb 16, 2021

"I wasn’t prepared to meet a condemned man.  In 1983, I was a twenty-three-year-old student at Harvard Law School working in Georgia on an internship, eager and inexperienced and worried that I was in over my head.  I had never seen the inside of a maximum security prison—and had certainly never been to death row.”

I’m Mark Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and Bryan Stevenson in his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption recounts his work with Walter McMillian, a black man convicted of capital murder of a white woman in a white, racially bigoted county in Alabama.  Walter is proven innocent of the crime, but even then, the legal battle for his freedom continues.  Through this case study, and others, Stevenson describes a legal system that is far from perfect, a system which hurts even the youngest among us, one that creates a caste system in America.

Mr. Stevenson says about his book, “This book is about getting closer to mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America.  It is about how easily we condemn people in this country and the injustice we create when we allow fear, anger and distance to shape the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.”  “We have to 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.”

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is not a feel-good book.  It is a hard read that challenges the conscience at every turn on justice, race, and mercy for the underprivileged.  It is a book that should be read today more than ever.