Category: Book Review
Paper Code: BR-AJ-01
Page Number: 486 - 487
Date of Publication: February 10, 2021
Citation: Aniket Jadhav, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, 1, AIJACLA, 486, 486-487, (2021).
Details Of Author(s):
Aniket Jadhav, Student, Government Law College, Mumbai
Just Mercy is a true story based on mass incarceration in America, authored by the lawyer Bryan Stevenson himself. He founded the Equal Justice Initiative’ which tried to bring revolutionary changes in the American justice system. This book throws light on America’s death sentences and rates of execution which are cruel and lofty and how most of it was fought against by the foundation. The book torments us to think about reforms in a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people with preference and privilege if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent. ‘Just Mercy’ explains the racial unjustness prevailing in the American civilization while delineating the case of Walter McMillian, a young black man who was falsely accused of the murder of a white woman which he didn’t commit. The state of Alabama demanded a death sentence for Walter by framing him wrongfully for the murder of a white woman Ms. Ronda Morrison who was shot dead in broad daylight. After the trial of less than two days the ‘Jury of whites’ sentenced Walter to live imprisonment which the Judge overruled and turned into a death sentence. Not to mention the jury ignored testimonials of multiple black witnesses. In the fight to save an innocent Walter McMillian, Stevenson played a pivotal role in which he also got threatened during the trial. Lawyer Stevenson did not give up and after frequent turning down of appeals by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, lastly, the court found that Walter McMillian had been wrongfully convicted. Walter was freed after six years on death row and remained close with Stevenson until he died in 2013 of dementia. The book further discusses many cases; one such is of Herbert Richardson which ends in death. These are the incidents of injustice that hurdles the delivery of justice. ‘Just Mercy’ is a book that showed many such wrongful convictions on death rows. Lawyer Stevenson usually focused on wrongly condemned, unusually condemned, or otherwise victims of the state. Most of them included people of color; apart from this the book also states the commitment of the ‘Equal Justice Initiative’ to end mass incarceration and early work of the foundation. The book inspires us with the spirit to fight for justice, question the system, the redundant policies while also makes us think about the racial disparities that persist at every level from misdemeanour arrests to executions. ‘Just Mercy’ is a guiding force for law students and lawyers across the globe as the ultimate aim of law is to serve justice and hence the ultimate aim of the legal fraternity should also be the commitment to justice; commitment to rule of law. This book aptly states the challenges and need for a civil rights centric justice system. This memoir by Bryan Stevenson is a passionate account of his life’s work which is larger than life and the deep-rooted racial prejudices and penury of the masses.