[My hands are pictured holding a paperback copy of Just Mercy in front of a grey ottaman]
Title: Just Mercy
Author: Bryan Stevenson
Rating: 5/5 ⭐
Me: This book kind of makes me want to quit my job and move to Alabama where I can do more good.
My boss: Wait until you get to the part where he explains how broken the work leaves him.
He wasn’t completely wrong. My boss gave a copy of this book to each attorney in the office because he said that every criminal defense attorney should read it. I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve finished the book and I’m not actually going to move to Alabama, at least partly because I wouldn’t actually know what I was doing. BUT I do feel reinvigorated to do more, which is something I will need from time to time. Being a public defender can be very rewarding but also very defeating. I have decided I am going to read at least one book per month that will make me a better attorney. This definitely qualifies.
This book shouldn’t just be read by attorneys, though; it should be read by everyone. The injustices in our current criminal justice system need to be more widely known so that reform is possible.
A few of many memorable quotes:
“I know that some have been through more than others. But if we don’t expect more from each other, hope better for one another, and recover from the hurt we experience, we are surely doomed.”
“The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”
“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?”
Sometimes, as a public defender, I represent individuals who are falsely accused. Other times, I represent someone who has been properly charged but unjustly punished. Read this book and there’s no way you will believe that people convicted of crimes always “get what they deserve.”