On the whole, I am more of an escapist when it comes to my reading habits. I love reading historical fiction and travel diaries especially. But sometimes you get a book recommendation and while it might not be what you would have sought out, it becomes a book that completely tips the scales. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson was that book for me.
Stevenson writes about his life’s passion working to fight injustice in America’s justice system, and the book highlights many of his experiences working with convictions sentenced to Alabama’s death row. He argues that our justice system skews wealthy and white, and encourages reform in our policies toward African Americans, impoverished people as a whole, mentally challenged people, and juveniles.
The book made me reconsider my position on the death penalty and our justice system in its totality. While I know our justice system is decades ahead of many other countries in protecting the rights of its citizens, it has its failures as well. I don’t think it’s up for debate that everyone gets the same fair experience. This is a capitalistic society and your wealth and connections can shape your experience.
This book gave me an enlightening perspective on these weaknesses and mistakes that are made, especially when a person is shackled by disability, poverty, youth and racism. Listening to each other matters, accountability matters, but mercy matters. And picking a side and using it as an excuse to perpetuating hate and further destruction does not.
This book is a peaceful way to keep this conversation going.