A Deep Dive into “Just Mercy”: Unveiling Injustice
Introduction to “Just Mercy” and Walter McMillian’s Case
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is a book all about the injustices that happen in our justice and criminal system today. It goes over the many cases of falsely accused people, but it focuses mainly on the case of Walter McMillian, who was wrongfully accused of murder and was sentenced to death sentence in the late 1980s in the state of Alabama.
Racial Bias and False Accusations
The story of Walter McMillian is similar to many wrongfully accused cases that had a racial bias towards it. Walter was a successful businessman in his neighborhood, but his whole reputation was tarnished because of an affair he had with a white woman, Karen Kelly. It turned the whole neighborhood around, and McMillian was not seen the same anymore. Coincidentally, in the same time frame, the unfortunate murder of Ronda Morrison was also shaking the city to its core. Ralph Meyers, a local white man who was involved with Karen Kelly, had accused Walter McMillian of the murder of Ronda Morrison. At the time, sadly, there were not many sheriff’s offices that were not racist, so this part is not different either from many other stories.
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The Flawed Justice System and Stevenson’s Fight
The racist sheriff’s office obviously believed Ralph Meyer’s accusation of Walter McMillian and went on with the case as if Walter was truly the murderer without any notice of evidence of an investigation. They did everything in the name of against the law, such as bribed witness testimonies, and forced Myers to testify even though he did not want to in the latter. Walter was finally convicted of murder, and that left his wife and kids completely alone.
While he was waiting on death row, that is when he met Stevenson. Stevenson saw the sorrow and the injustice being made towards McMillian and his family in this case, ad he decided to take on the case. Years pass by, and Walter’s whole neighborhood shows Stevenson and Walter nothing but support, and they feel the pain as a whole community. Stevenson tries to go through a retrial and multiple appeals throughout the year as well, but Stevenson discovers much, much more than that. He discovers vile racism and corruption in the criminal justice system.
The heartbreaking case goes on and on, and as each day goes on, more evidence against law officials is found than against McMillian. In between crevices of the book, Stevenson also discusses other cases where the criminal justice system is serving everything but justice. Stevenson brings up many cases of juveniles getting sentenced to homicidal and nonhomicidal crimes. He goes deeper into the topic of juvenile sentencing and how juveniles are usually abused in the prison system. He makes multiple points where he defends juvenile offenders because of their past, such as abusive household history, mental difficulties, and horrible upbringings, things that affected them and their decisions at the time.
He speaks about the case of Marsha Colbey, who was known as a “killer mother,” but she was not the only one. “Killer Mothers” was a name given to many low-income and mentally disabled mothers in these areas. Basically, throughout the whole entire book, Stevenson goes through many cases of racially discriminating cases in the criminal justice system. He shows us the true colors of what it truly looks like behind the scenes.
Biblical Perspective and Final Justice
If one looks at the case of Walter McMillian from a biblical point of view, it truly is unjust and not what Jesus would want in anyone’s path. Bible passage; Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” explains that He has created all of us equally and in the image of him. Inequality is unacceptable in His eyes because we are all in the imagery of Him and also made by Him, so very clearly, the treatment that McMillian had gotten just because of his skin color was sinful in itself.
The truth behind cases such as Walter McMillian still is very hidden to this day. A lot of false and accusatory statements are going around putting innocent people behind bars just because of the way that He has created them, their skin color. As many years ago as this case was, inequality and injustice still lie in courtrooms today and are not really seen by the naked eye unless someone looks deeply enough.
At the end of the case, Walter McMillian was finally released after serving six years on death row. Love, support, celebration, and cheers were run, really, throughout the whole country. It was truly one of the most well-known cases with these circumstances at the time.
Walter McMillian ended with justice being served, but it started with injustice flooding minds and hearts over the country. In a world where God’s truth was taken seriously, cases like this would not exist, and innocent people like McMillian would not have to be separated from their families in the first place.
- Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Spiegel & Grau, 2015.