Gabby’s book of the month: Just Mercy

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Gabby’s book of the month: Just Mercy

Gabby Allen, Managing Editor

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson is eye opening in the worst possible way. Readers are forced to turn away from their blissful ignorance and are hit with the truth of the country’s criminal justice system, or, as I now think of it, the criminal injustice system.
Bryan Stevenson’s narrative begins when he was a young lawyer, still experiencing the world for what it is. He founded the Equal Justice Initiative, which is a legal practice dedicated to defending the seemingly defenseless. He takes on cases with the impoverished, wrongly condemned, women, and juveniles, most serving life sentences.
The work of non-fiction revolves around the case of Walter McMillian, which took place in the late 1980s. Walter was a black man from a small and poor community in Alabama, who is living on death row, sentenced for a crime he is adamant that he did not commit.
Stevenson is immediately thrust into a case that will answer the question for which he is forever responsible: Will Walter McMillian live and return to his small town surrounded by his family? Or will he die strapped to an electric chair notoriously named “Yellow Mama?”
As Stevenson states, “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 discusses topics that no one should have to discuss. Through Stevenson’s brilliant narrative, it doesn’t seem like someone is reading a book about a lawyer dealing with tough cases. In Just Mercy you can smell the smells of the execution halls in Alabama; you can hear the clang of tin cans on metal cell bars as another is sent to die; you are a prisoner and a lawyer and a family member and a prison guard.
You are everything but free.
Though there were moments where the intensity of Just Mercy caused me to set the book down, there is a necessity to read on. The topics Stevenson discusses are very important to today’s society. He writes about people we don’t think about on a day-to-day basis, people who are shoved into cells, serving sentences they might not have committed in the first place.
Presently, in a time where police brutality and the criminal justice system are continuously in the spotlight, Just Mercy is a perfect book for those trying to understand more of what injustices the country’s minorities face.

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