Friday, February 12, 2016

Staff Picks

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Reading this book shook me to my core.  It is a memoir from Bryan Stevenson, a gifted, Harvard-educated attorney.  After graduating from law school, he started the Equal Justice Initiative in Mobile, Alabama.  The goal of the organization is to provide legal help to those most in need, the poor, the wrongly convicted, women and children, etc.  He described the story of a man sentenced to death row who had twenty witnesses who said he could not have committed the murder.  It was frightening to see how someone could be convicted with so little evidence.  Mr. Stevenson eventually, after eight years, won the man his freedom, but as he says in the book "it was way too easy to convict an innocent man and way too difficult to get him out." He described the story of 13-year-old child sentenced to life in prison without parole based solely on the testimony of someone who was testifying in order to reduce his sentence for his participation in the same crime.  Perhaps the most troubling of all, was the story of a woman, who was a mother of five, whose 6th baby was stillborn at home.  Her nosy neighbor became convinced that the baby was actually born alive and the mother was sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Again, it took years for Mr. Stevenson to get her out of jail and reunite her with her children.  I lost a lot of faith in our justice system after finishing this book.

Amy Weiler
Information Specialist