Sunday November 15, 2015

Champion of the Damned: Bryan Stevenson's fight to fix a broken justice system

When Bryan Stevenson was asked to come up with a 7-word bio for a recent public appearance, he offered this: "Broken by poverty, injustice, condemnation. But hopeful."  It's a powerful description, if a little too modest. Other people have called Stevenson: Atticus Finch meets Martin Luther King.

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, a group that gives legal help to defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair treatment in the justice system. 

He speaks to Mary Hynes about the time the police head a gun to his head, how Rosa Parks warned him about burn-out, and why he fights everyday for men and women living on death row.

He is the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. You can read a chapter of the book below. 


Book Excerpt: Just Mercy

"He's just a little boy. "It was late, and I had picked up the phone after hours because no one else was in the building; it was becoming a bad habit. The older woman on the other end of the line was pleading with me after offering a heartfelt description of her grandson, who had just been jailed for murder.

"He's already been in the jail for two nights, and I can't get to him. I'm in Virginia, and my health is not good. Please tell me you'll do something."

Read Chapter Six of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Copyright © 2014 by Bryan Stevenson.  Reprinted by arrangement with Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

stories from this episode