An American hero – Bryan Stevenson

Who is Bryan Stevenson you may be asking yourself? Per Wikipedia:

“Bryan A. Stevenson is an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Stevenson has challenged bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system, especially children. He has helped achieve United States Supreme Court decisions that prohibit sentencing children under 18 to death or to life imprisonment without parole.”

He is an American hero who has helped free over numerous death-row prisoners who were wrongly convicted. Some of these people should not have ever come to trial. They were guilty by being Black. The DAs did not bother with ballistics tests, even when later challenged. The juries, judge and prosecutors were almost always white.

Stevenson got a new trial which freed one man who had been on death row for 30 years. Earlier attempts years before failed because a line of DAs would not take the time do a ballistic test. The man has still not received an apology for giving up 30 years of his life for a wrongful conviction.

Per the HBO documentary “True Justice:”

“Stevenson has argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including one that resulted in a ban on mandatory sentences of life without parole for children 17 and under. He and the EJI have won reversals, relief or release from prison for more than 135 wrongly condemned death-row inmates.” 

He has now helped establish a Civil Rights museum in Montgomery, AL. Part of this museum includes several shelves of jars of soil gleaned from beneath trees where Black men were lynched. And, there are two monuments for every county in America where lynching occurred. The second monument is for the county to take back to remind us of what evil intent can do. He is strident in his view that the death penalty following a pre-determined trial outcome is a legal way to lynch someone, so he feels it is imperative to link this to the lynchings.

In the HBO documentary, Stevenson noted how we do a terrible job in our country of admitting and learning from our mistakes. Germany has many places where plaques note the atrocitues of Nazism. Here, we try to whitewash history, including the “genocide” of Native Americans, a term which is rarely used, but is apt.

We need more heroes like Stevenson. He is very earnest and speaks with a thoughtful and quiet voice. It is refreshing to see such a man where substance matters over perception.


13 thoughts on “An American hero – Bryan Stevenson

  1. A man who is definitely worthy of the term “hero”. There are few enough, and society often applies the term to people who aren’t truly heroes … sports figures who are being paid mega-bucks to play a game are not, in my book, heroes. Bryan Stevenson is doing great things for people … thanks for sharing his story, my friend, for I had never heard of him. The world needs a whole lot more like him.

    • Jill, I agree. I understand a movie is being made about his life and career. The documentary is excellent. It would be so easy for him to throw his hand up and quit. One of his collegues said, there was one year he lost three appeals in a row for three folks who were innocent. They were each executed.

      Stevenson said once a man he tried to save in a similar situation was denied several appeals, the last one while awaiting execution. When Stevenson called to tell him, this man thanked Stevenson for fighting for him as no one had ever done that before. He was about to die, but was thanking Stevenson for trying.


      • I must definitely check out the documentary, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the movie (when it comes out on Amazon Prime with captioning, that is 😉 ) Don’t you sometimes wonder what it is that makes some men the sort that will go out of their way, dedicate their life to others, and still other men would not hit the brakes to keep from knocking down a little ol’ woman in the crosswalk? Genetics? Upbringing? Something else?

      • Jill, that is the existential question. I see Warren Buffett who is the richest man, but is down to earth. He says he is lucky to have been born a white, male in America, all three are important. People like Stevenson need to be celebrated and lifted up. Keith

    • Roger, thanks for your comment and patience. I found four of your comments in my spam folder. I don’t know how they got there, but I hope it has been remedied. I agree with your comment on dirty linen. Keith

      • That ol’ Roger must have been a baaaaad boy for WordPress to be punishing him so!

        Like you always tell us, be nice, Uncle Woger 😺😺😺😺😺

      • I’m glad we are back in contact Keith.
        I never thought it was possible that something other than Trump or Johnson (Boris) (minor) [that’s a reference to his schooling days…it’s a British thing]….. Would have annoyed me more, albeit on a temporary basis.
        However WP’s abject failure to admit that their system may have been at fault has dug under my skin somewhat.

      • Roger, I am sorry you found WordPress Limbo. It is hard to realize what the problem is when you don’t know your in it. I was wondering if you were banned by the White House incumbent for fake news. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: Stevenson noted his group had saved 135 people off death row. During this time about the same number x a factor of ten were put to death. In other words, 10% of the death row inmates were proven innocent. That is just the ones they were able to save. By itself, a 10% error rate should tell us to stop killing people.

  3. Note to Readers: One of Stevenson’s big wins is noted above. He convinced the Supreme Court to not sentence juveniles with life sentences. He noted the data supports the ability to put youth on a better path forward after they commit youthful offenses.

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