Just Mercy Resources for Teaching

Curriculum resources.

  • Themes of Just Mercy
  • Related Films
  • SCU Library Resources
  • States of Incarceration- Resources Resources support discussions around histories and current issues in mass incarceration. Curricula includes a curated list of readings around a variety of themes in incarceration history.
  • Teacher’s Guide to Just Mercy Chapter summaries and discussion questions produced by the publisher of Just Mercy from the Georgia State University first-year book program.
  • Just Mercy Assignments Discussion and analysis in-class activities and assignments for teaching Just Mercy from Professor Maggie Hill.
  • Just Mercy and Media Analysis Assignment Assignment to analyze media related to themes of Just Mercy.
  • Just Mercy Book Review Analysis Part 1 Introductory class exercises using analysis of book reviews.
  • Just Mercy Book Review Analysis Part 2 Follow-up class exercise using analysis of book reviews.
  • Just Mercy Rhetorical Analysis Activity Introductory assignment for rhetorical analysis of Just Mercy.
  • Analysis Essay of Just Mercy Analysis essay, including identifying a topic, rhetorical context, analysis, and making a claim.
  • Lens Analysis: Music in Just Mercy Assignment and activities focused on the role of music in Just Mercy.
  • Just Mercy Synthesis Essay Synthesis is a common practice of information literacy in many academic, professional, and social communities that involves comparing perspectives, highlighting similarities, differences, and connections, and presenting new ideas based on your interpretations of others’ ideas. For
  • Just Mercy Introduction Discussion Discussion question for the introductory chapter of Just Mercy.
  • Music in Just Mercy Activities and assignments centering the role of music in Just Mercy.
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just mercy synthesis essay

Bryan Stevenson

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Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Just Mercy: Introduction

Just mercy: plot summary, just mercy: detailed summary & analysis, just mercy: themes, just mercy: quotes, just mercy: characters, just mercy: terms, just mercy: symbols, just mercy: theme wheel, brief biography of bryan stevenson.

Just Mercy PDF

Historical Context of Just Mercy

Other books related to just mercy.

  • Full Title: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
  • When Written: 2014
  • Where Written: United States
  • When Published: United States
  • Literary Period: Contemporary nonfiction; 21st century African-American criticism
  • Genre: Sociopolitical Nonfiction; Legal Nonfiction
  • Setting: Monroeville, AL; Montgomery, AL; Atlanta, GA, and several other cities throughout the United States
  • Climax: The climax occurs in Chapter 15, on the night of Jimmy Dill’s execution. Dill’s petition for clemency is denied within an hour of his scheduled execution, which is a devastating loss for Stevenson. In addition, Walter’s dementia is causing his decline, and EJI has an almost unmanageable docket of people needing relief. After his heartbreaking phone call with Dill moments before his death, Stevenson feels the weight of all the tragedy and injustice that he has witnessed over the years. He suffers a crisis of faith and considers quitting.
  • Antagonist: The Criminal Justice/ Prison System
  • Point of View: First Person

Extra Credit for Just Mercy

Viral Justice Bryan Stevenson’s 2012 TED Talk entitled “We Need to Talk About Injustice” was posted on YouTube and went viral on the Internet.

Literary Laurels Just Mercy was listed in Time Magazine’s top 10 nonfiction books of the year. It won the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Nonfiction.

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84 pages • 2 hours read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Before You Read

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Introduction - Chapter 3

Chapters 4-6

Chapters 7-10

Chapters 11-13

Chapter 14 - Epilogue

Key Figures

Symbols & Motifs

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Discussion Questions

To Kill a Mockingbird is, like Just Mercy , set in Monroe County, Alabama. Compare and contrast Harper Lee’s novel with this nonfiction work. In what ways do the two works speak to similar themes of racism and the limits of justice? In what ways do works diverge?

The United States is the only Western country to use the death penalty. Behind China, it executes the greatest number of people each year. Consider why this might be. What about America’s history or culture has allowed for this? What links does Stevenson draw between the death penalty and what it means to be “American?”

Stevenson presents the legal cases of both men and women, juveniles and adults. How does gender and/or age affect the cases he describes? Consider the standards of living, the prison “culture,” and the inmates themselves at facilities for men vs. women and for adults vs. juvenile offenders? 

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Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice

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by Bryan Stevenson

Just mercy themes, mass incarceration.

Stevenson returns to the theme of mass incarceration—i.e. locking Americans in prison at historically unheard-of rates—throughout the memoir. He details the dramatic rise in the number of people imprisoned since he began his legal career in the early 1980s. He also explores how many people are imprisoned for nonviolent offenses, as well as children serving adult life sentences. Impoverished people and people of color are over-represented in prisons, and this imprisonment is profitable to the companies that build, own, and maintain prisons. Stevenson traces a historical line from this practice back to chattel slavery in the U.S. In part due to the Equal Justice Initiative's social justice work, by 2014, mass incarceration rates had stabilized.

Racial Injustice

Racial injustice is a prevalent theme in the majority of cases Stevenson focuses on in the memoir, and is particularly relevant in Walter's wrongful conviction. Racial injustice arises in ways overt and nuanced: Walter's wrongful conviction stems from the fact that he is black and the murder victim is white; Stevenson is harassed and presumed guilty by white police; Walter's hearing is moved by a white judge to county likely to have white jurors; Walter's supporters are excluded from the courtroom through police intimidation at his hearing. These incidents showcase how the majority-white judicial system in the Deep South treats black people by a different standard.

Inhumane Prison Conditions

Stevenson returns to the theme of inhumane prison conditions to shed light on the needlessly torturous practices that demand serious reform. Stevenson details how prisoners on death row are confined to box-like cells and traumatized by the smell of flesh burning in the electric chair. Stevenson touches on the prevalence of sexual violence in prisons when he learns that Charlie , a young boy sentenced to adult prison, is being gang-raped by adult inmates. Stevenson also describes how it is too common for male guards to rape female prisoners, some of whom become pregnant and are made to deliver their babies while handcuffed.

Mistreatment of Vulnerable People

Much of Stevenson's work and wisdom has to do with challenging the way the judicial system mistreats vulnerable people: the poor, the disabled, the abused. He recognizes that changes to the judicial system rely on popular support for reform. Early in the memoir, Stevenson states that the true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Stevenson says we are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated.

Trauma and PTSD

Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder pervade the cases Stevenson discusses. The injustice his clients experience has lasting effects on the condemned people and their families. Specific examples of the lasting effects of trauma include Mrs. Williams ' negative reaction to the police dog brought into the courtroom during Walter's hearing, and how, after being released and living in a nursing home, Walter continually fears that he has been put back on death row.

Imprisonment of Children Tried as Adults

As one of the EJI's main focuses, the charging and sentencing of children as adults arises several times throughout the memoir. Stevenson comments that the fear and anger in the 1980s and early 1990s that fueled mass incarceration led to black and brown children being labeled as “superpredators” by criminologists. New laws led to harsher sentencing for juvenile offenders, but by 2000 the juvenile population had increased while juvenile crime rates decreased, thereby disproving the superpredator theory. Stevenson details how constitutional challenges he brings to the Supreme Court lead to the mitigation of sentences for children serving adult sentences.

Hope and Resilience

Throughout Just Mercy , Stevenson returns to the hope and resilience he and his clients need to challenge a fundamentally skewed and despair-inducing judicial system. Though he and the EJI face numerous setbacks to their legal efforts, Stevenson uses adversity as motivation to continue to fight for a more just society. Often it is the gratitude and good nature of his clients and their families that inspires him to continue with his work.

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Just Mercy Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Just Mercy is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What does the information regarding Bill Hooks literal hookup with Walter's case reveal about the criminal justice system and the sheriffs department in Monroe County?

The information regarding Bill Hooks' testimony revealed the corruption and racial bias within the department, as well as the wrongful convictions purused and enacted by the criminal justice system.

What does the information regarding Bill Hooks literal hookup with Walter's case reveal about the criminal justice system and the sheriffs department in Monroe County? How does this help Walter's case?

The information the officers received from Bill Hooks was a complete fabrication. Bill Hooks made a false statement that framed Walter and led to a false conviction. The discovery that the investigators knowingly and purposely used false...

(Page 193) When considering Walter Macmillan's freedom, what does Stevenson mean when he says that "this whole nightmare...would likely never be completely over for him"?

After six years on death row, Walter McMillian is exonerated and freed. Stevenson recounts how close he and Walter remained after the case closed. Walter's life is not necessarily happy after his release: the trauma of living on death row stays...

Study Guide for Just Mercy

Just Mercy study guide contains a biography of Peter Abelard, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Just Mercy
  • Just Mercy Summary
  • Character List

Lesson Plan for Just Mercy

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Just Mercy
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Just Mercy Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for Just Mercy

  • Introduction

just mercy synthesis essay

Just Mercy - List of Essay Samples And Topic Ideas

Just Mercy is a memoir by Bryan Stevenson detailing his experiences as a young lawyer fighting for the rights of marginalized individuals in the US justice system. Essays could explore the themes of justice, compassion, and systemic inequality as depicted in the memoir. Discussions could also extend to the broader implications of Stevenson’s work and the ongoing efforts to address injustices within the legal system. We have collected a large number of free essay examples about Just Mercy you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Law and Society in “Just Mercy”

From talking about different types of cases involving corruption in the United States Criminal Justice system, the novel ""Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption"" by Bryan Stevenson is a great novel to read. This piece of literature takes place mostly during the time where blacks were discriminated heavily, and the court system was somewhat flawed against them. It talks about the author himself, on how he spends decades dedicating himself to help those who have been falsely accused […]

Just Mercy – Powerful Argument against the Death Penalty

Our character is measured by how we treat the accused, disfavored, the poor, and the condemned as well as the incarcerated. Bryan Stevenson is the executive director and founder of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative. He is a lawyer and spends most of his time in prisons, jails and on death row. He works on the criminal justice system and he noticed several problems affecting the system, racial injustice being one of them. An African-American man, Walter McMillan spent six […]

Measure for Measure Justice and Mercy

Shakespeare's Measure for Measure explores everything from the balance between justice and mercy, to lust and all of the unavoidable sins of human nature. Shakespeare's work mainly focuses on justice and mercy, two concepts that although seemingly universal, are presented in different manners in this work. In the Renaissance era, the time period in which this play takes place, many of the usual punishments that were accepted would be seen as cruel and harsh today. Shakespeare uses all of the […]

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“Just Mercy” is Bryan Stevenson’s Perspective on the American Criminal Justice System

Stevenson argues that the society should be aware rather than punishment. His personal stories share a representation of the criminal justice system. Stevenson is responsible for reducing the amount of wrongly accused victims. Throughout the story Just Mercy, the author, Bryan Stevenson, uses an optimistic tone. During cases, he would notice that things weren't going the way he expected. However, he still had hope in those situations. Bryan Stevenson uses real life experiences to bring awareness to incarceration. He uses […]

The Story of Walter McMillian in Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

The story of Walter McMillian in Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is the one that I found the most intriguing. Bryan, who was the attorney on Walter's case, was young and just starting his career. He first encountered Walter while he was on death row (20). He had spoken to other inmates on death row that day, but Walter's case is the one that stuck with him. He felt Walter's sincerity and heartache (21). Walter grew up in a rural […]

Winds of Change in America’s Criminal Justice System

The American justice system has always been accused of being unfavorable towards minorities, especially to the black population of our society. A positive change can be seen in recent years, however, according to Philip Smith, editor and chief correspondent of a media project called “Drug Reporter” that is endorsed by the Independent Media Institute. His article, “4 Reasons for a Surprising Change in Racial Incarceration Trendlines,” noted a recent trend of gradual decline in incarceration rate of the black population […]

Theme of Just Mercy

Justice is not about taking revenge; it is about equity. The purpose of this reflection is to present the thoughts and analysis of the Just Mercy book by Bryan Stevenson (2014). Stevenson is the main character of the book; it is about his journey from graduating Harvard Law School to being a civil rights fighter through his profession as a lawyer. It was after I read this book that I learned the real brutality of imprisonment in the United States. […]

Book Summary: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

In Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, a book by Bryan Stevenson, readers are taken along on an emotional rollercoaster while following the stories of Alabama death row inmates and their struggle to survive. Bryan Stevenson, a SPDC lawyer and activist, narrates his past of representing wrongly charged death row inmates in the Alabama justice system and his efforts to fight for their equality. In his book, Stevenson entices readers with his compassionate personality and knowledge of the […]

Just Mercy: a Story of Justice and Redemption

The Novel, Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson illustrates Bryan Stevenson's career as a legal advocate for troubled people. These people were given very harsh sentences or wrongly convicted, which means they were thrown in jail for something they never did. Bryan Stevenson felt it was his mission to help these people better there sentences and ultimately get them out of jail. My response to the novel was it was very hopeful and the tone really set this off. The tone […]

Just Mercy: Chlidren Incarceration Essay

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by American Activist and Lawyer Bryan Stevenson is an account of his lifelong career as a lawyer as he advocated for and represented individuals who were wrongly and harshly sentenced for crimes they did not commit. The book profiles many cases throughout including Walter McMillian who was falsely accused of killing a white woman by the name of Rhonda Morrison and sentenced to death row. This books purpose is to bring awareness […]

Racism in Just Mercy by Stevenson

"In the three texts we learn about how poor minority groups are affected by racism. In Just Mercy, Stevenson recounts his life working with prisoners on death row that were wrongfully convicted. He also gives examples of his own experiences being a victim of racism. In the recording, The Runaways we learn about police indifference towards poor immigrant latino families. Even though many latino teens were going missing and getting killed the police ignored the families demand for immediate action. […]

Just Mercy: Justice in American

The book ""Just Mercy"" focuses on justice in American. The book is writing by Bryan Stevenson a guy who graduated from college with a degree in philosophy then later figured out philosophy wasn't really too much for him so he deiced to go to law school to focus more of the racial in the justice system. In the middle of his career he went deep south where he met a lot of people on death row that were dying for […]

Just Mercy – Equal Justice Initiative

Through his book, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson revisits his career as a legal advocate for marginalized people who haven't been treated fairly by law enforcement. Stevenson moves to Atlanta to work for the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee and later movies to Alabama where he founds his organization, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). In Alabama, Stevenson represents many death row inmates, one of which was Walter McMillian who became connected with EJI while on death row. Stevenson takes over the case […]

Just Mercy Review

A judge that passes down a less than desirable and lenient sentence to a criminal, causes strife and anger among those who witness it. One expects a judge to impose the full extent of the law because justice is punishment and has no room for mercy. However, outside the rules of the law, friendships between families, colleagues, and acquaintances all call for mercy and compassion. Justice and mercy can seemingly oppose each other and can be qualities that one struggles […]

Just Mercy: the Clear Portrait of American Justice System

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is the clear portrait of American Justice system where some selected generation and selected category people are being deprived and being miss judge by the law enforcement authority. This dishonesty bug destroying lots of innocent life and pushing them into the uncertain black hole in their life. They are deprived of civil rights, begin deprived of right justice so on. In the book, the author discussed the racism, corruption in the justice system and abuse […]

Just Mercy: Bryan Stevenson’s Odyssey of Compassion and Redemption in Cinematic Brilliance

The cinematic marvel "Just Mercy," unfurling on screens in 2019, vividly echoes Bryan Stevenson's gripping memoir, illuminating his tireless quest for justice and mercy within a deeply flawed legal system. Director Destin Daniel Cretton intricately weaves the narrative around the young lawyer Bryan Stevenson, portrayed with profound conviction by Michael B. Jordan. The film encapsulates Stevenson's resolute determination to advocate for the rights of wrongly convicted prisoners, centering on the poignant case of Walter McMillian, portrayed by Jamie Foxx, unjustly […]

Humanity in the Courtroom: Breaking down ‘Just Mercy’ by Bryan Stevenson

Crack open Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy," and you're not just reading a book; you're stepping into the trenches of America's justice system. This isn’t your typical legal narrative; it's a deep dive into the heart of the legal system, guided by Stevenson’s compassionate voice and his unwavering belief in justice and equality. Let's walk through the pages of "Just Mercy," unraveling the stories that reveal the flaws and the humanity within the American legal system. From the get-go, "Just Mercy" […]

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How To Write an Essay About Just Mercy

Understanding 'just mercy' by bryan stevenson.

Before writing an essay about 'Just Mercy,' it is essential to thoroughly understand the book. Written by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and social justice advocate, 'Just Mercy' is a powerful narrative that focuses on the American justice system, highlighting issues of racial inequality and wrongful convictions. The book primarily revolves around the case of Walter McMillian, a black man wrongfully sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman in Alabama. Start by analyzing the main themes of the book, such as the flaws in the criminal justice system, the impact of racial discrimination, and the power of mercy and forgiveness. Familiarizing yourself with Stevenson’s legal battles and the personal stories he shares will provide a solid foundation for your essay.

Developing a Focused Thesis Statement

Your essay should be guided by a clear, focused thesis statement. This statement should present a specific argument or perspective about 'Just Mercy.' For example, you might discuss the book's portrayal of the systemic racism in the American justice system, or how Stevenson’s narrative offers insights into the struggles for legal reforms. Your thesis will shape your analysis and provide a structured approach to discussing the book.

Gathering Supporting Evidence

To build a compelling argument in your essay, gather evidence from the book to support your thesis. This might include specific cases Stevenson discusses, statistical data he provides, or personal anecdotes that illustrate the broader themes of the book. Analyzing Stevenson’s arguments and the evidence he uses to support them will strengthen your essay and provide a solid basis for your arguments.

Analyzing Stevenson's Narrative and Advocacy

An important aspect of your essay should be an analysis of Bryan Stevenson’s narrative style and advocacy work. Discuss how Stevenson uses storytelling to convey complex legal and ethical issues, and how he combines personal narratives with broader social commentary. Analyzing the effectiveness of his approach in engaging and educating the reader will add depth to your essay.

Concluding the Essay

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of your analysis and restating your thesis in light of the evidence and discussion provided. Your conclusion should tie together your insights into 'Just Mercy,' emphasizing the book’s impact on your understanding of justice and social reform. Reflect on the broader implications of Stevenson's work, such as its relevance to current social justice movements and legal practices.

Reviewing and Refining the Essay

After completing your essay, review and edit it for clarity and coherence. Ensure that your arguments are well-structured and supported by evidence from the book. Pay attention to grammar and syntax to ensure your writing is clear and professional. Seeking feedback from others, such as peers or instructors, can provide new perspectives and help you polish your essay. A well-crafted essay on 'Just Mercy' will not only demonstrate your understanding of the book but also your ability to engage critically with important social issues.

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Just Mercy — Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy”: Book Review

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Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy": Book Review

  • Categories: American Literature Book Review Just Mercy

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Words: 545 |

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 545 | Page: 1 | 3 min read

Works Cited

  • “Walter McMillian.” Equal Justice Initiative, 2016, eji.org/cases/Walter McMillian/.

Should follow an “upside down” triangle format, meaning, the writer should start off broad and introduce the text and author or topic being discussed, and then get more specific to the thesis statement.

Provides a foundational overview, outlining the historical context and introducing key information that will be further explored in the essay, setting the stage for the argument to follow.

The topic sentence serves as the main point or focus of a paragraph in an essay, summarizing the key idea that will be discussed in that paragraph.

The body of each paragraph builds an argument in support of the topic sentence, citing information from sources as evidence.

After each piece of evidence is provided, the author should explain HOW and WHY the evidence supports the claim.

Should follow a right side up triangle format, meaning, specifics should be mentioned first such as restating the thesis, and then get more broad about the topic at hand. Lastly, leave the reader with something to think about and ponder once they are done reading.

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