Just Mercy Summary

Just Mercy is a new movie, released on December 25, 2019, based on the book by Bryan Stevenson, released on October 21, 2014. The book quickly rose to fame, making number one on the New York Times sellers list for 21 weeks and going. Before the book hit number one, it was on The New York Times Best Sellers list for 188 weeks. The movie adaptation of Just Mercy takes us through the story Stevenson, a lawyer helping Walter McMillian, an innocent man on death row, prove his innocence . The movie really allows viewers to connect with the characters. Director Destin Daniel Cretton makes the film come alive and makes the viewers empathize with the characters and lets you see the world through new eyes and giving others a new perspective on what is happening in the film.

The author of the book, Bryan Stevenson, was born on November 14, 1959 in a poor rural community. While growing up, Stevenson learned early on that, “There was this break in the world, and if you grew up on one side of that crack, it was definitely different than if you grew up on the other side of it.” Meaning, if you grew up on the “wrong” side of town you had less opportunity and were overlooked. In 1985 Stevenson graduated from Harvard University with a degree in both a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a JD from the School of Law. He has been representing and freeing the wrongly convicted in the deep south from 1985, right out of law school. In 1989 he started the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), that helps condemned prisoners, people wrongfully convicted or charged, juvenile offenders, people denied effective representation, and people whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. Stevenson has helped free over 140 wrongfully convicted people, but for every nine people executed, one person on death row has been exonerated.

In 1988, Bryan Stevenson met Walter McMillian and took on the case in postconviction, where he showed that the State’s witnesses had lied on the stand and the prosecution had illegally suppressed exculpatory evidence. McMillian’s conviction was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1993 and prosecutors agreed the case had been mishandled. McMillian was released in 1993 as a free man, after spending six years on death row for a crime he did not commit. After his release, Walter McMillian spent him time educating people about the death penalty, talking to students, community groups, and ellected officials. McMillian died on September 11 2013, from early onset dementia, believed to be brought on by the trauma of imprisonment. Stevenson and McMillian have dedicated the rest of their lives to helping free innocent / wrongly convicted people.