Society is falling apart as the powers of division develop, becoming tenacious, dividing individuals. We are losing trust in one another and in the future of the country and even the world. Sentiments of dissatisfaction, feebleness and loss are making us powerless against stories such as the ‘us versus them’ accounts, which turns one against the other. The country itself is openly broken apart and people are grown different and see others as different and even lower at points and it is defined in their actions, as in, the actions one has committed that the outer sources discover and think it defines the whole person. There is an illusion, that if a terrible decision defines us. There is a term that I believe in, that I feel should be explored upon and heard by so many because so many people need to hear it. The term “Each of us is better than the worst thing we’ve ever done” brings forth the mindset that you background matters and deeper within, we can reconcile and rebuild to create something brighter, and better for all.
The previous term comes out of “Just Mercy”, a book authored by highly accomplished lawyer, activist Bryan Stevenson. In this book, Stevenson accounts for some of his most memorable cases and experiences. The case in which he mainly centers around is the case of Walter McMillan. Walter McMillian, a black man, was indicted and condemned to death for the homicide of a youthful white woman who was a clerk in a laundromat in Monroeville, Alabama. Mr. McMillian was hung waiting for capital punishment preceding being indicted and condemned to death. His trial was swift, going just a day and a half. Three witnesses testified against Mr. McMillian and the jury disregarded justification from other witnesses. The trial’s judge abrogated the jury’s verdict of life in prison and condemned Mr. McMillian to death. Bryan Stevenson took looking into the case in postconviction, where he demonstrated that the State’s witnesses had lied on the stand and the indictment had illegally smothered exculpatory evidence involving the case. Mr. McMillian’s conviction was dropped by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1993 and prosecutors concurred the case had been misused. Mr. McMillian was discharged in 1993 in the wake of going through six years waiting for capital punishment for a wrongdoing he did not even commit. This was an amazing book that could really change a person’s view of things when really analyzed.
In reading the book, I found a case that truly shook me. Antonio Nuñez experienced childhood in Los Angeles with a physically abusive and careless dad. As a kid, he was sentenced to probation for nonviolent offenses. Bryan Stevenson writes in “Just Mercy” that because of police profiling, poor and minority youth frequently create criminal records for ‘behavior that more affluent children engage in with impunity.’ (155). In 1999, a drive-by shooter shot Antonio in his stomach, side, and arm and murdered Antonio’s 14 year old brother. After hospitalization, Antonio went to live with relatives in a more secure community in Nevada, where his grades and conduct improved. Within a year, however, he was summoned back to Los Angeles because he was still serving probation following being a ward of the court for a prior offense. Antonio suffered in his return to Los Angeles as Stevenson describes that, “Nunez suffered trauma symptoms, including flashbacks, an urgent need to avoindata area, a heightened awareness of potential threats, and an intensified need to protect himself from real or perceived threats.” (155). This lead to him purchasing a gun for self-defense, but he was quickly arrested and placed in a juvenile camp because of it. When released from camp, this is where we return to what occurred.
Stevenson exhibits the connection between neglect and child abuse and early crime, including the effect of neighborhood and community. The judge’s impression of Antonio as miserable demonstrates that he considers Antonio to be inherently bad. The judge neglects to see Antonio as a young child who is as yet changing. Interestingly, Stevenson shows the association between changes in Antonio’s condition and changes in his conduct, recommending this ought to have been considered. Stevenson’s contention with police profiling further supports the book’s contentions about separation in the criminal equity framework against minorities and poor people.
This is no hoax either. I myself have seen the atrocities committed by the police force. I respect our police for the most part, but I know there is a problem with some officers. I’ve seen people beaten by police with my own eyes. I’ve seen people easily get off and guess what, they were white, but I’ve seen the same act take place and it be a black or brown person and it’s like there is a terrorist attack situation going on. This concerns me and makes me think, why? Why must it be like this?