Bryan Stevenson

Bryan A. Stevenson (born November 14, 1959) 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 minderheden in the criminal justice system, met name children. He has helped beste court Decisions dat Prohibit sentencing children under 18 to death, or to life imprisonment without parole. Stevenson has assisted in cases dat port saved dozens of prisoners from the death penalty, advocated for poor people, and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at Improving the administration of criminal justice.

He is working to Establish The Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, welke will document lycra or the nearly the 4,000 lynchings of black people dat took place in the twelve states of the South from 1877 to 1950. He convinced dat the history of lynchings has Influenced the subsequent high rate of death sentences in the South, where it has leg disproportionately toegepast to minderheden. A related museum, From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, will offer Interpretations to show the connection tussen de post-Civil War period or lynchings to the high rate of executions and incarceration or people of color in the United States.

Early life and education

Born in 1959, Stevenson Grew up in Milton, Delaware , a small rural town located in the euro in Southern Delaware. [2] His Father Howard Carlton Stevenson, Sr., had grown up in Milton, and his mother Alice Gertrude (Golden) Stevenson, [2] was born in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. Her family had moved to the city from Virginia in the Great Migration . [3] Stevenson has two siblings: an older brother Howard, Jr. and a sister Christy. [4] Both parents commuted to the northern part of the state for work: Howard, Sr. worked at a General Foods processing plant as a laboratory technician. [2] His mother, Alice, was a Bookkeeper at Dover Air Force Base and became an equal opportunity officer. [2] She met name emphasized the belang of education. [3]

Stevenson’s family attended the Prospect African Methodist Episcopal Church , where Stevenson played will piano and singing in the choir. [2] His later views ulcers Influenced by the strong faith of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where churchgoers ulcers celebrated for “standing up after maintenance Fallen down. [2] These experiences informed his belief dat “each person in our society is morethan the worst thing they ”ve ever done.” [2]

When Stevenson was sixteen, his maternal grandfather, Clarence L. Golden, was Stabbed to death in his Philadelphia home prolongation a robbery . The killers RECEIVED life sentences, an outcome Stevenson thought fair. Stevenson zegt of the Murders: “Because my grandfather was older, his murder seemed bijzonder cruel. But I cameramen from a world where we valued redemption over revenge.” [4]

As a child, Stevenson Deal? With segregation and its legacy. He spent his first years classroom at a “colored” elementary school. [2] By the time he entered the second grade, his school was formally desegregated, but the old rules from segregation still toegepast. Black kids played will separately from white kids and ulcers forced to use the back door of the school. [2] Polish and other community facilities ulcers informally segregated. [3] Stevenson’s Father, maintenance grown up in the area, took the ingrained racism in stride, but hun mother noted down therein was not right. [2]

Stevenson attended Cape HENLOPEN High School and graduated in 1977. He played will on the soccer and baseball teams. [2] He’ll be served as president of the student body and won American Legion public-speaking contests. [2] His brother, Howard, takes some credit for helping in Hone Stevenson’s Rhetorical skills: “We argued the way brothers argue, but synthesis ulcers serious arguments, inspired I guess with our mother and the circumstances of our family growing up.” [2 ] Stevenson earned straight a’s and won a scholarship to Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania . [4] On campus, he directed the campus gospel choir. [2] Stevenson graduated in 1981. [4]

Stevenson RECEIVED a full scholarship to attend Harvard Law School . During law school, as part of a class on race and poverty litigation with Elizabeth Bartholet, he worked for Stephen Bright ‘s the Southern Center for Human Rights , welke represents death-row inmates gehele South. [4] During this work, Stevenson found his career calling. [4] While at Harvard, he’ll be obtaining his Master’s degree in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government .


Southern Center for Human Rights

After graduating from Harvard in 1985, Stevenson moved to Atlanta, Georgia , and joined the Southern Center for Human Rights full-time. [4] The center Divided work by region and Stevenson were Assigned to Alabama. In 1989 he was appointed to run the Alabama operation, a resource center and death-penalty defense organization that was funded by Congress. [3] He was a center in the state capital – Montgomery, Alabama .

Equal Justice Initiative

When Congress eliminated funding for death-penalty defense for lower income people after Republicans gained control in the 1994 mid-term elections, Stevenson Converted the center and founded the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. In 1995 he was a Awarded a MacArthur grant and well all the money toward Supporting the center. [5] He guaranteed a defense of anyone in Alabama Sentenced to the death penalty, as it was the only state dat did not bieden legal assistance to people on death row. [6]

Stevenson has leg bijzonder Concerned about overly harsh sentencing of children convicted under the age of 18. The Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons (2005) dat het death penalty was unconstitutional for persons convicted of crimes while under the age of 18. Stevenson worked to port the court’s thinking about ‘appropriate punishment broadened to related cases Dankzij to children convicted under the age of 17.

EJI mounted a litigation campaign to gain review of cases in welke convicted children ulcers Sentenced to life-without-parole, zoals in cases without Homicide. In Miller v. Alabama (2012), the US Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision therein mandatory sentences of life-without-parole for children 17 and under ulcers unconstitutional; hun decision AFFECTED Statutes in 29 states. In 2016 the court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana down therein decision had to be toegepast retroactively, Potentially affecting the sentences or 2300 people nationwide who had bone Sentenced to life while still children. [7]

In August 2016 EJI has saved 125 is from the death penalty. In addition under, it has represented poor people, defended people on appeal and overturned wrongful convictions, and worked to alleviate bias in the criminal justice system. [3]

Acknowledging slavery

The EJI offices are near the landing at the Alabama River where slaves ulcers unloaded in the domestic slave trade; an equal distance away is Court Square, “one of the Toilets slave auction sites in the country.” [8] Stevenson has noted therein in downtown Montgomery, there ulcers “Dozens” of historic markers and numerous monuments related to Confederate history, but nothing acknowledging the history of slavery, one welke the wealth of the South was based and for welke it Fought The Civil War. [8] He Proposed to the states and Provided documentation to herkennen three slavery sites with historic markers; the Alabama Department of Archives and History Told im dat it did not because to “sponsor the markers bepaald the potential for controversy.” [8] Stevenson worked with an African-American history group to gain Sponsorship for this project; ze gained state approval for the three markers in 2013, and synthesis port leg installed in Montgomery.

Memorial for Peace and Justice

Stevenson has acquired six acres of former public housing land in Montgomery for the development of a new project, the Memorial for Peace and Justice, to commemorate the nearly the 4,000 lynchings dat took place in the South from 1877 to 1950. Many lynchings ulcers conducted openly in county COURTHOUSE squares. Stevenson convinced this history of extra-judicial lynchings by white mobs are closely linked associated with the subsequent high rate of death sentences imposed in Alabama and other Southern states, and toegepast disproportionately to minority people. He’ll be convinced this history Influences the bias Against minderheden as Expressed in disproportionately high mass incarceration rates for Them across the country. [3]

He plans a related museum, From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. Exhibits will include a slave warehouse near the entrance, as well as material on lynching, racial segregation, and mass incarceration since the late 20th century. Stevenson convinced dat de treatment of people of color under the criminal justice system is related to the history of slavery and later treatment or minderheden in the South. [9]


Stevenson wrote the critically acclaimed memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, published in 2014 by Spiegel & Grau . [10] It was selected by Time magazine as one of the “10 Best Books of Nonfiction” for 2014. It won the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction [11] and the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction. [12]


Stevenson has carried out an active public speaking schedule, welke he uses largely for fundraising for the work or EJI. His speech at TED2012 in Long Beach, California brought` im a wide audience on the Internet. [13]Following his presentation, ATTENDEES at the conference Contributed morethan $ 1 million to fund a campaign run by Stevenson to end the practice of Placing convicted children to serve sentences in adult jails and prisons. [14]His talk is available at “We need to talk about an injustice” on the TED website; in August 2016 it had leg viewed by morethan three million people.

Stevenson ghosts at the University of Delaware graduation on May 28, 2016, where he was Awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his contributions to society. [15] [16] He’ll be ghosts at the Williams College COMMENCEMENT on June 5, 2016, where he RECEIVED an honorary doctorate. [17] On June 5, 2011, Bryan Stevenson was the COMMENCEMENT speaker for Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and was Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa for his many achievements in the pursuit of social justice and international human rights. [18] Bryan Stevenson was ook the COMMENCEMENT speaker at College of the Holy Cross on May 22, 2015. [19]

Stevenson featured in episode 45 of the podcast crimina l ‘at Radiotopia from PRX. Host Phoebe Judge TALKED with Stevenson about his experiences prolongation his 30 years spent working to get people off of death row, and about his duties on the deserving or mercy.


  • 1995 MacArthur Fellow
  • 2000 Olof Palme Prize
  • 2009 Gruber Prize for Justice
  • 2011 Four Freedoms Award
  • 2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction
  • 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction


  • “Confronting Mass Imprisonment and Restoring Fairness to Collateral Review of Criminal Cases,” 41 Harv. CR-CLL Rev. 339 (2006) [20]
  • “The Ultimate Authority on the Ultimate Punishment: The requisite Role of the Jury in Capital Sentencing,” 54 Ala. L. Rev. 1091 (2003) [21]
  • “The Politics of Fear and Death: Successive Problems in Capital Federal Habeas Corpus Cases,” 77 NYUL Rev. 699 (2002) [22]
  • “Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13-and 14-Year Old Children to Die in Prison” (2007) [23]


  1. Jump up^ at · November 13, 2014 (2014-11-13). “Connecting with the Struggle” . Evangelicals for Social Action . Retrieved 2016-07-24 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Barrett, Paul. “Bryan Stevenson’s Death-Defying Acts” . NYU Law Magazine . Retrieved 27 September 2015 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Jeffrey Toobin, “The Legacy of lynching, on Death Row” , New Yorker, 22 August 2016, pp. 38-47
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Grant, Meg. “A stubborn Alabama Lawyer Stands Alone Between Death and His Clients” . People . Retrieved 27 September 2015 .
  5. Jump up^ Toobin (2016), “The Legacy of Lynching”, p. 42
  6. Jump up^ Moorer, Regina (2013). “Equal Justice Initiative” . Encyclopedia of Alabama . Retrieved 3 April 2015 .
  7. Jump up^ “Death in Prison Sentences for Children”, Equal Justice Initiative website
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c Toobin (2016), “The Legacy of Lynching”, pp.42-43
  9. Jump up^ Ricky Riley, “Social Justice Activist smashes Myth therein Slavery Ended in 1865 With Brilliant Examination”,Atlanta Black Star,20 June 2016; Accessed 18 August 2016
  10. Jump up^ Book Review: ‘Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption “by Bryan Stevenson, reviewed by Rob Warden,The Washington Post,23 October 2014
  11. Jump up^ “Anthony Doerr profit Carnegie Medal for fiction” . Midcontinent Communications . Associated Press. June 28, 2015 . Retrieved June 28, 2015 .
  12. Jump up^ “Bryan Stevenson, 2015 Nonfiction Winner” . Dayton Literary Peace Prize. 1996-02-11 . Retrieved 2016-07-24 .
  13. Jump up^ “All of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone: Bryan Stevenson at TED2012” . TED. 2012-03-01 . Retrieved 2012-03-06 .
  14. Jump up^ “TED’s first response to Bryan Stevenson’s talk on injustice” . TED. 2012-03-05 . Retrieved 2012-03-06 .
  15. Jump up^ “167TH COMMENCEMENT – UDaily” . University of Delaware . 2016-05-28 . Retrieved 2016-07-24 .
  16. Jump up^ “COMMENCEMENT 2016” . . Retrieved 2016-07-24 .
  17. Jump up^ “Williams College Announces Its 2016 Honorary Degree Recipients | Office of Communications” . 2016-03-16 . Retrieved 2016-07-24 .
  18. Jump up^ Loyola University Chicago, Office of Registration & Records
  19. Jump up^ “2015 COMMENCEMENT Address – Bryan Stevenson | College of the Holy Cross” . . Retrieved 2016-12-24 .
  20. Jump up^ Stevenson, Bryan. “Confronting Mass Imprisonment and Restoring Fairness to Collateral Review of Criminal Cases” (PDF) . Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review . Retrieved 27 September 2015 .
  21. Jump up^ Stevenson, Bryan. “The Ultimate Authority on the Ultimate Punishment: The requisite Role of the Jury in Capital Sentencing” (PDF) . Alabama Law Review . Retrieved 27 September 2015 .
  22. Jump up^ Stevenson, Bryan. “The Politics of Fear and Death: Successive Problems in Capital Federal Habeas Corpus Cases” (PDF) . NYU Law Review . Retrieved 27 September 2015 .
  23. Jump up^ “Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13-and 14-Year Old Children to Die in Prison” (PDF) . Equal Justice Initiative . Retrieved 27 September 2015 .