REVIEW: ‘Just Mercy’ gives a voice to a forgotten demographic


Graphic Liza Armstrong

Staff writer Kathryn Zaia writes that Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy” shines light on the corruption in America’s criminal justice system despite being hard to follow at some points.

Kathryn Zaia, Staff Writer

Is our system of justice truly fair? Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” thoroughly explores this question, guiding the reader through the author’s journey as a young lawyer fighting against entrenched legal injustices. Well-explained and deeply emotional, this story is one of hope, desperation and numerous unexpected developments. 

“Just Mercy” focuses on a demographic largely forgotten by American society: prisoners on death row, specifically those wrongly accused and mistreated by the system. The book deals primarily with Stevenson’s mission to help these prisoners; simultaneously, however, it details his transition from an idealistic young lawyer to one disillusioned by the corruption of the criminal justice system. 

Stevenson’s use of powerful statistics and connections to history are interspersed with more personal stories, providing a well-rounded context for the book. However, his writing is at times tangential and meandering, moving between multiple story lines and seemingly unrelated information. Nevertheless, his fact-fueled style combined with emotional narratives successfully illuminates and clarifies the complex subject. 

Stevenson’s book provides thoughtful, well-researched commentary on an issue rarely given enough thought. In its exploration of the shortcomings of the criminal justice system, “Just Mercy” paints a vivid and sobering picture of just how much progress we still need to make.