Just Mercy: Shedding Light on Important Issues

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The introduction chapter in the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson starts to shed light on some very important issues. He talks about how he got to fighting for incarcerated people, how unjust the prison system is and what led him to determine that. Bryan Stevenson had ended up in Harvard Law School by chance, but always had a vast feeling of disconnection. One day he found out about an internship in Georgia working for the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee (SPDC). On his way to Georgia, he met Steven Bright, the director of the SPDC and started to get a glimpse of how life-changing this opportunity could be but he didn’t fully grasp that knowledge until he met a man named Henry. Henry was on the first person on death row that Steveson ever met. They spoke for hours and it opened Bryan’s eyes. When he went back to school the next fall, he was determined to learn more about the twisted and unjust prison system. He talks about how bais it is, how its ruining society, and many more of its major issues. It directly correlates with what we are doing in class because this year we are learning about not just the literal crime and corruption, but the punishments, and all the unfairness that comes along with it.

One theme that is commonly seen is systemic power, oppression, and dehumanization. Stevenson talks about how legal structures add to systemic oppression to many marginalized groups such as African Americans, women, the poor, and the disabled. The criminal justice system keeps the cycle of vulnerability, poverty, and racial inequality in our prison systems by playing favorites to the individuals and groups who have more power. Steveson demonstrates this trough historical evidence, his moral reflections suggest that such abuses of the justice system dehumanize both the victims and the perpetrators of oppression, and much more. Many people on death row have had to deal with incompetent court-appointed lawyers, political corruption, racial prejudice and profiling, and much more, and Stevenson brings this into the light.

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Another common theme found is mercy. He believes that no matter how heinous the crime, everyone deserves some sort of mercy. He believes that harsh punishments do not prevent any crimes but provoke crime. He believes the only way to break the nasty cycle is to give those who may not seem like they deserve it mercy. He argues that achieving a more just society and fostering an ethic of mercy requires individuals from all sides to become more empathetic. Prejudice and injustice blossoms when people can be condemned as “other” or “criminal,” a classification that constitutes a gap between “us” and “them.” in order to bridge the gap he wants people to understand and connect with individual inmates stories.

Stevenson is a black man that grew up in poverty and his ancestors in slavery. After his internship, he finished Harvard law school ready to make a difference. He has done so much in his lifetime such as initiate the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and received the Benjamin Franklin Award from the American Philosophical Society as a 'Drum major for justice and mercy' (Wikipedia). He is a very accomplished man and has executed a book describing our twisted prison system in a unique and captivating way.

This chapter was very eye-opening. I feel like Stevenson covered all the information I expected perfectly. It gave me more insight into the US prison system and just how unjust it is. Many of the things he discussed are still issues today like the growing incarceration rate, how it is disproportionately high for black males, the death penalty, harsh sentences for juvenile offenders and nonviolent crimes, and the criminalization of poverty, mental illness, and drug addiction. One thing I really connected with was how he spoke about people with drug addiction and how instead of providing them with rehabilitation the US prison system provides them with imprisonment. I also thoroughly connected with him when he introduced how of the prison system also gave up on education and for the inmates because providing them with these basic things is to “kind and compassionate”.

In conclusion, I think Stevenson introduces his point beautifully. He captivates the reader right from the start and then starts to enlighten them with knowledge about our prison system. He advocates for the ones we don’t even think about. He has created a picture to expose just how unjust our prison system is, and we still haven’t done anything to better it.

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Just Mercy: Shedding Light on Important Issues. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/just-mercy-shedding-light-on-important-issues/
“Just Mercy: Shedding Light on Important Issues.” WritingBros, 14 Dec. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/just-mercy-shedding-light-on-important-issues/
Just Mercy: Shedding Light on Important Issues. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/just-mercy-shedding-light-on-important-issues/> [Accessed 14 Jul. 2024].
Just Mercy: Shedding Light on Important Issues [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 Jul 14]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/just-mercy-shedding-light-on-important-issues/
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