Read: August 2020

Inspiration: Heard a news story of social justice work inspired by Bryan Stevenson and the film adaptation of the book (recommended by a friend)


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Just Mercy”, published in 2014 by lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson, tells the story of Stevenson’s work as the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to prisoners who have been wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced. The book is divided into several chapters, each of which looks at a different case or issue that Stevenson and his team have worked on. Some of the topics covered in the book include the death penalty, racial injustice, and the impact of mass incarceration on communities and families. Throughout the book, Stevenson provides an intimate and moving look at the lives of the people he has represented and the injustices they have faced. He also offers a powerful critique of the criminal justice system and the ways in which it disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Overall, “Just Mercy” is an inspiring story of the work of Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, and a call to action for reform.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Even into 1970s/80s laws barred interracial relationships, through mid 1980s in south judges struck black jurors arbitrarily to get all white jury, big issue with children getting life sentences without parole for non-homocides committed young or other crimes with many complicating childhood circumstances (increasingly in 80s/90s lower bar for trial as adults out of fear), 60s/70s had big move to mental insitutions but abuse led to reduction and instead more to prison for non-violent offenses (particularly for mentally ill who had bad interactions with police), animosity in south towards press dates back to 1960s NYT vs Sullivan when Alabama gov sue NYT for coverage of MLK and supreme court rule with MLK, hysteria over bad mothers send hundreds to jail for false homocide in stillbirths or drugs during pregnancy (southerners try to show care for unborn/fetus), between 1990-2005 one new prison every 10 days bc profits from construction (tons of lobbying to criminalize more things), “it’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent—strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering”

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