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Justice, Mercy, and Redemption: Bryan Stevenson's Death Row Advocacy

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Justice, Mercy, and Redemption: Bryan Stevenson's Death Row Advocacy

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Justice, mercy and redemption: Bryan Stevenson's death row advocacy


Justice, Mercy & Redemption
Photograph of Bryan Stevenson by Equal Justice Initiative

There’s a saying in the criminal defense bar: There’s nothing more frightening than having an innocent client.

Judging by that standard, you’d think Bryan Stevenson must have been scared out of his wits for the last three decades—but no. It takes a lot to rattle the Harvard-educated attorney, 58, who has won relief for more than 125 people on death row. Success has meant getting a new trial, a reduced sentence or, best of all, complete exoneration. In the latter case the client walks out of prison, sometimes after decades of incarceration, for a crime they did not commit. Invariably they find Stevenson waiting outside the prison gate with arms outstretched.

Former Alabama death row inmate Anthony Ray Hinton experienced that when Stevenson got his conviction overturned in 2015. He says he remains baffled at how Stevenson won his freedom.

“Some people called it a miracle. I like to say that God sent me his best lawyer, his No. 1,” says Hinton. “In almost 30 years on death row, I never saw a lawyer with so much dedication and humanity and such a sharp legal mind, and I’ve never heard of one from another inmate.”

Hinton describes his relationship with Stevenson as “pure respect for one another.” He adds, “Just being around him makes me feel smarter. He believes in me, sometimes more than I do. Who would have thought I’d get out of prison and write a book?” (Hinton’s book, The Sun Does Shine, recounts his life on death row.)

His 16-year relationship with Stevenson didn’t end when he walked out of prison a free man. Long-term inmates face huge challenges when they try to reintegrate into society, even with things most people consider second nature..."

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