Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Book Review

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Just Mercy is an extraordinary book. Its a powerful truthful and story by Bryan Stevenson, Stevenson who is an attorney guides us through his life in Alabama and how he helps defend innocent, poor men and women on death row who were wrongly convicted. Throughout each of the cases, Stevenson shows us how messed up are system can be. In this essay, we will talk about how the system has failed some prisoners and see how racial profiling, poverty, and police mistreatment and brutality has an effect on the prisoners and citizens.

In this book, Stevenson talks about racial profiling. Racial profiling is the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense. In the book, Stevenson talks about many people who were wrongly convicted based on race. One person being Walter McMillian. Walter McMillian was an African American man who was accused of killing Ronda Morrison. Walters’s family was devastated and knew he could not have murdered her because he was a very hardworking man and they had evidence that he was with them when the murder took place. The only evidence the police had on Walter was that he “he was an African American man involved in an adulterous interracial affair, which meant he was reckless and possibly dangerous”(pg.34). So just being black and having an interracial affair was sufficient enough evidence for them to believe Ralph Myers’s who gave a fake story to police and convicted Walter. Another example of racial profiling in the book involves the author. Stevenson during his early twenties. Stevenson was sitting in his car one night until a SWAT car came rushing down the road ad stopped right in front of him. The police came close to Stevenson’s car so he got out of the car very frightened and was going to try and walk home until they threatened “move and ill blow your head off!” (pg 40). This is an example of racial profiling because the police only believe Stevenson was threatening and unsafe because of the color of his skin. After they illegally searched through his car and found no evidence for an arrest to be taken. He was then let go and was very moved by the incident and had a better understanding of what poor, colored people struggle within Alabama. Both of these occurrences show how it is a struggle for African Americans to fit into society and how racial profiling affects their daily life.

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Poverty is another great struggle people that live in Alabama and other states have to live with. Just mercy shows poverty throughout each case Stevenson has to defend. The majority of blacks and some whites living in the south are having to live on the streets and most of them don’t have medical care that they need. There were occurrences in the book where mothers can’t afford prenatal care and try to deliver their own babies which can be unsafe. for instance, Marsha Colby lived in a poor rural Alabama town with her husband where they were struggling financially. They lived in a trailer with their six children and were at risk when Hurricane Ivan hit. After the damage, Marsha found herself pregnant and she knew that pregnancy at her age was very risky But she can't afford a doctor. After several weeks she delivered a stillborn baby and tried reviving the infant but saw he wasn't breathing and concluded he was dead. Soon her neighbors started to notice that she wasn't pregnant anymore so they informed the police. Marsha was then arrested and charged with capital murder She didn’t have enough money for a doctor so she sure wasn’t going to have enough for a defense lawyer. The court concluded that “the child would have survived with medical attention”(pg 231) and she was sentenced to life in prison. Not having enough money to afford hospital care shouldn’t be a worry for pregnant mothers because it is not safe and could end up having mothers wrongly convicted for killing their children.

Among other things, Stevenson shows us how police mistreatment and brutality occurs. Police mistreatment is still a problem and exists in the U.S., affecting predominantly black prisoners physically and mentally. One example Stevenson talks about in his book a client he had named Henry. This was when Stevenson was just an intern and was asked to visit Henry and tell him that his execution day was pushed back. But once Stevenson gave him the news Henry was very happy and hopeful. After a couple of hours of them talking the guard came back very angry because they have gone over the amount of time, they were given to speak. So “he roughly shackled henrys ankles. The guard was so angry he put the cuffs on too tight” (pg 11). When Stevenson saw this he became very worried and asked the guard to loosen the cuffs but the guard ignored. Many of these prisoners are poor and colored. In many of Stevenson’s cases, you can see how police mistreat the prisoners and became physically and mentally abusive.

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Book Review. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/just-mercy-by-bryan-stevenson-book-review/
“Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Book Review.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/just-mercy-by-bryan-stevenson-book-review/
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Book Review. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/just-mercy-by-bryan-stevenson-book-review/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Book Review [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/just-mercy-by-bryan-stevenson-book-review/

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