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Just Mercy [books]

While here in Seattle, I recalled that my mother had mentioned a book recently that she said was fantastic and she recommended reading. So she loaned me her copy of Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson. I was a little concerned to discover that the cover was emblazoned with "NYT Bestseller" advertisements, but this concern was assuaged as soon as I started reading and discovered it was a work of nonfiction. I never have any luck with the fiction that winds up on the NYT Bestseller list, but am often pleased by things that wind up on the nonfiction list.

Anyway, I, too, now recommend Just Mercy. It's a contemporary look at the criminal justice system in the US, focusing primarily on stories and cases from Alabama, but offering a perspective on how the US deals in general with a whole bunch of intertwined social issues, most especially poverty and racism. (but let's not leave out mental illness, also discussed)

Stevenson is a powerful and articulate writer, who writes vividly and persuasively about people with very hard lives who have been wronged by the criminal justice system. If you've read recently about the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which has just opened in Montgomery, realize that it's another, related project initiated by Stevenson. It is heartening to read the work of someone who has devoted his life to helping the poor and downtrodden, and who is clearly using his talents to be a force for good. The book is a gift in its presentation of the concept of restorative justice, in contrast to punishment or retribution, which is something that is often missing from superficial conversations about how societies should deal with harmful and mistaken acts by people. I appreciate it as a companion work to reading The Book of Forgiving.

If you are in a space where you need to have some faith in humanity restored, pick up this book. It's clear that there's still an overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done on this front, but there's hope.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1227308.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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