Monday, 20 October 2014

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy, which will be released on October 21, 2014is the memoir of Bryan Stevenson, an activist lawyer and co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. The centre of the novel is the story of Walter McMillan, whom Stevenson represented in the 1980s. McMillan was accused of the murder of a young white woman in Monroeville, Alabama--ironically, the hometown of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, which tells the story of a black man falsely accused of the rape of a white woman.

McMillan had been having an affair with the woman and was convicted at trial of her murder despite the fact that numerous eye witnesses provided him with an alibi. The predominantly white jury (eleven of its members were white) returned a sentence of life in prison, which  the judge, Robert E. Lee Key, converted to a death sentence. McMillan was finally exonerated and released in 1993. He died last year.

In Stevenson's own words: "We will ultimately not be judged by our technology, we won’t be judged by our design, we won’t be judged by our intellect and reason. Ultimately, you judge the character of a society . . . by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated.”

For information on the Equal Justice Initiative, please click here.

For information on the exoneration of Walter McMillan, please click here.

For a review of Just Mercy, please click here.