41 Just Mercy Quotes With Page Numbers

These Just Mercy quotes with page numbers help you reference the quotes you need.

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, is about Stevenson’s experience as a legal advocate for those wrongfully accused or sentenced harshly.  

The book profiles many different people, but it focuses on Walter McMillian, a black man wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to death.

Stevenson and the organization he founded (the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI) eventually get justice for McMillan, but after 6 years on death row. Although he is free, his life will never be the same. But his case helps Stevenson and the EJI uncover more corruption and prevent more people from being wrongfully convicted.

 

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Just Mercy Quotes With Page Numbers

“Love is the motive, but justice is the instrument”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 0

 

“capital punishment means ‘them without the capital get the punishment.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 6

 

“You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close,”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: a story of justice and redemption, Page 14

 

“It is about how easily we condemn people in this country and the injustice we create when we allow fear, anger, and distance to shape the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: a story of justice and redemption, Page 14

 

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 17-18, and 290

 

“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 17, 18

 

“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 18

 

“An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive, abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 18

 

“Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 18

 

“The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 18

 

“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 18

 

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice…The real question of capital punishment in this country is, not do they deserve to die, but do we deserve to kill?”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 18

 

“[W]e would never think it was humane to pay someone to rape people convicted of rape, or assault and abuse someone guilty of assault or abuse. Yet we were comfortable killing people who kill in part because we think we can do it in a manner that doesn’t implicate our own humanity the way that raping or abusing someone would. I couldn’t stop thinking that we don’t spend much time contemplating the details of what killing someone actually involves.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 90, 91

 

“What do we tell these children about how to stay out of harm’s way when you can be at your own house, minding your own business, surrounded by your entire family, and they still put some murder on you that you ain’t do and send you to death row?”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 93

 

“We’ve all been through a lot, Bryan, all of us. I know that some have been through more than others. But if we don’t expect more from each other, hope better for one another, and recover from the hurt we experience, we are surely doomed.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 126

 

“America’s prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 186

 

“Today, over 50 percent of prison and jail inmates in the United States have a diagnosed mental illness, a rate nearly five times greater than that of the general adult population.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 189

 

“The kind of hope that creates a willingness to position oneself in a hopeless place and be a witness, that allows one to believe in a better future, even in the face of abusive power. That kind of hope makes one strong.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 219

 

“I’d grown fond of quoting Václav Havel, the great Czech leader who had said that “hope” was the one thing that people struggling in Eastern Europe needed during the era of Soviet domination.

Havel had said that people struggling for independence wanted money and recognition from other countries; they wanted more criticism of the Soviet empire from the West and more diplomatic pressure. But Havel had said that these were things they wanted; the only thing they needed was hope. Not that pie in the sky stuff, not a preference for optimism over pessimism, but rather “an orientation of the spirit.” The kind of hope that creates a willingness to position oneself in a hopeless place and be a witness, that allows one to believe in a better future, even in the face of abusive power. That kind of hope makes one strong.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 219

 

“Havel had said that people struggling for independence wanted money and recognition from other countries; they wanted more criticism of the Soviet empire from the West and more diplomatic pressure. But Havel had said that these were things they wanted; the only thing they needed was hope. Not that pie in the sky stuff, not a preference for optimism over pessimism, but rather “an orientation of the spirit.” The kind of hope that creates a willingness to position oneself in a hopeless place and be a witness, that allows one to believe in a better future, even in the face of abusive power. That kind of hope makes one strong.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 219

 

“Most incarcerated women—nearly two-thirds—are in prison for nonviolent, low-level drug crimes or property crimes. Drug laws in particular have had a huge impact on the number of women sent to prison. “Three strikes” laws have also played a considerable role. I started challenging conditions of confinement at Tutwiler in the mid-1980s as a young attorney with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee. At the time, I was shocked to find women in prison for such minor offenses. One of the first incarcerated women I ever met was a young mother who was serving a long prison sentence for writing checks to buy her three young children Christmas gifts without sufficient funds in her account. Like a character in a Victor Hugo novel, she tearfully explained her heartbreaking tale to me. I couldn’t accept the truth of what she was saying until I checked her file and discovered that she had, in fact, been convicted and sentenced to over ten years in prison for writing five checks, including three to Toys “R” Us. None of the checks was for more than $150. She was not unique. Thousands of women have been sentenced to lengthy terms in prison for writing bad checks or for minor property crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences. The collateral consequences of incarcerating women are significant. Approximately 75 to 80 percent of incarcerated women are mothers with minor children. Nearly 65 percent had minor children living with them at the time of their arrest—children who have become more vulnerable and at-risk as a result of their mother’s incarceration and will remain so for the rest of their lives, even after their mothers come home. In 1996, Congress passed welfare reform legislation that gratuitously included a provision that authorized states to ban people with drug convictions from public benefits and welfare. The population most affected by this misguided law is formerly incarcerated women with children, most of whom were imprisoned for drug crimes. These women and their children can no longer live in public housing, receive food stamps, or access basic services. In the last twenty years, we’ve created a new class of “untouchables” in American society, made up of our most vulnerable mothers and their children.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 236, 237

 

“Between 1990 and 2005, a new prison opened in the United States every ten days. Prison growth and the resulting “prison-industrial complex”—the business interests that capitalize on prison construction—made imprisonment so profitable that millions of dollars were spent lobbying state legislators to keep expanding the use of incarceration to respond to just about any problem. Incarceration became the answer to everything—health care problems like drug addiction, poverty that had led someone to write a bad check, child behavioral disorders, managing the mentally disabled poor, even immigration issues generated responses from legislators that involved sending people to prison. Never before had so much lobbying money been spent to expand America’s prison population, block sentencing reforms, create new crime categories, and sustain the fear and anger that fuel mass incarceration than during the last twenty-five years in the United States.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 260

 

“Why do we want to kill all the broken people?”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 288

 

“Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 289

 

“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 289

 

“We are bodies of broken bones. I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.
We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our humanity.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 289

 

“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us. Paul Farmer, the renowned physician who has spent his life trying to cure the world’s sickest and poorest people, once quoted me something that the writer Thomas Merton said: We are bodies of broken bones. I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion. We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity. I thought of the guards strapping Jimmy Dill to the gurney that very hour. I thought of the people who would cheer his death and see it as some kind of victory. I realized they were broken people, too, even if they would never admit it. So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak—not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken. I thought of the victims of violent crime and the survivors of murdered loved ones, and how we’ve pressured them to recycle their pain and anguish and give it back to the offenders we prosecute. I thought of the many ways we’ve legalized vengeful and cruel punishments, how we’ve allowed our victimization to justify the victimization of others. We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible. But simply punishing the broken—walking away from them or hiding them from sight—only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 289, 290

 

“There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 290

 

“But simply punishing the broken–walking away from them or hiding them from sight–only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 290

 

“There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 290

 

“Mrs. Parks (Rosa Parks) turned to me sweetly and asked, ‘Now, Bryan, tell me who you are and what you’re doing.’ I looked at Ms. Carr to see if I had permission to speak, and she smiled and nodded at me. I then gave Ms. Parks my rap. ‘Yes, ma’am. Well, I have a law project called the Equal Justice Initiative, and we’re trying to help people on death row. We’re trying to stop the death penalty, actually. We’re trying to do something about prison conditions and excessive punishment. We want to free people who’ve been wrongly convicted. We want to end unfair sentences in criminal cases and stop racial bias in criminal justice…Ms. Parks leaned back smiling. ‘Ooooh, honey, all that’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.’ We all laughed. I looked down, a little embarrassed. Then Ms. Carr leaned forward and put her finger in my face and talked o me just like my grandmother used to talk to me. She said, ‘That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.’ All three women nodded in silent agreement and for just a little while, they made me feel like a young prince.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 292, 293

 

“The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent—strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering. It has the power to heal the psychic harm and injuries that lead to aggression and violence, abuse of power, mass incarceration.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 294

 

“Older people of color in the South would occasionally come up to me after speeches to complain about how antagonized they feel when they hear news commentators talking about how we were dealing with domestic terrorism for the first time in the United States after the 9/11 attacks. An older African American man once said to me, “You make them stop saying that! We grew up with terrorism all the time. The police, the Klan, anybody who was white could terrorize you. We had to worry about bombings and lynchings, racial violence of all kinds.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 299

 

“Of course innocent mistakes occur, but the accumulated insults and indignations caused by racial presumptions are destructive in ways that are hard to measure. Constantly being suspected, accused, watched, doubted, distrusted, presumed guilty, and even feared is a burden born by people of color that can’t be understood or confronted without a deeper conversation about our history of racial injustice.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 300, 301

 

“I decided that I was supposed to be here to catch some of the stones people cast at each other.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 308

 

“All these young children being sent to prison forever, all this grief and violence. Those judges throwing people away like they’re not even human, people shooting each other, hurting each other like they don’t care. I don’t know, it’s a lot of pain. I decided that I was supposed to be here [at the court] to catch some of the stones people cast at each other.’
I chuckled when she said it. During the McMillian hearings, a local minister had held a regional church meeting about the case and had asked me to come speak. There were a few people in the African American community whose support of Walter was muted, not because they thought he was guilty but because he had had an extramarital affair and wasn’t active in the church. At the church meeting, I spoke mostly about Walter’s case, but I also reminded people that when the woman accused of adultery was brought to Jesus, he told the accusers who wanted to stone her to death, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ The woman’s accusers retreated, and Jesus forgave her and urged her to sin no more. But today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even the Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion. I told the congregation that we can’t simply watch that happen. I told them we have to be stonecatchers.
When I chuckled at the older woman’s invocation of the parable, she laughed, too. ‘I heard you in that courtroom today. I’ve even seen you hear a couple of times before. I know you’s a stonecatcher, too.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Pages 308, 309

 

“Fear and anger are a threat to justice. They can infect a community, a state, or a nation, and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 313

 

“Walter made me understand why we have to reform a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent. A system that denies the poor the legal help they need, that makes wealth and status more important than culpability, must be changed. Walter’s case taught me that fear and anger are a threat to justice; they can infect a community, a state, or a nation and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous. I reflected on how mass imprisonment has littered the national landscape with carceral monuments of reckless and excessive punishment and ravaged communities with our hopeless willingness to condemn and discard the most vulnerable among us. I told the congregation that Walter’s case had taught me that the death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 313

 

“Mercy is just when it is rooted in hopefulness and freely given. Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 314

 

“Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 314

 

“The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”

~Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Page 314

 

These Just Mercy quotes with page numbers help you reference the quotes you need.

Just Mercy is about Stevenson’s experience as a legal advocate for those wrongfully accused or sentenced harshly.  

Further Reading:

The Best Book Quotes With Page Numbers

To Kill A Mockingbird Quotes With Page Numbers

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