SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Attorney Bryan Stevenson will give a talk titled “Mercy: Redemption and Restorative Justice for the Condemned” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at Skidmore College. Free and open to the public, the talk is sponsored by Skidmore’s Speakers Bureau and the program In Our Name.
America has the largest prison population in the world – and the criminal justice system that puts the men, women, and children in these prisons is broken. Excessive punishment and abuse are widespread, and the collateral consequences are devastating lives and communities. Stevenson will talk about defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people. The stories he tells are heartbreaking yet inspiring and have been known to motivate audiences to make a change.
Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. His memoir, Just Mercy, is the story of a young lawyer fighting on the front lines of a country in thrall to extreme punishments and careless justice. It is an inspiring story of unbreakable humanity in the most desperate circumstances, and a powerful indictment of a broken justice system and the twisted values that allow it to continue.
Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu has called Stevenson “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” His work on individual cases has generated national attention and his efforts have reversed death penalties for dozens of condemned prisoners. Stevenson’s 20-minute TED Talk on the subject of injustice has been viewed 1.25 million times on the TED web site and another 150k times on YouTube; The New Yorker named it one of five essential TED talks.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1985, Stevenson moved to the South, a region on the verge of a crisis: the states were speeding up executions, but many of the condemned lacked anyone to represent them. On a shoestring budget he started the Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people. The cases he took on changed his life and transformed his understanding of justice and mercy.
Stevenson is the recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant and the NAACP Image Award for Best Non-Fiction, and is a tenured law professor at New York University School of Law.