Good morning. I want to thank everyone who joined us for the Book Club: Just Mercy yesterday. I look forward to our next one. Here are the notes from the handouts and the list of questions I used to guide the discussion. We did not cover all of these – there is never enough time.
As a little reminder – those who read the book will understand where this comes from – do not forget to identify the stone catchers in your community this holiday season and thank them with a note. We need them.
And don’t forget – we need YOU.
JUST MERCY by BRYAN STEVENSON
Just Mercy Book Discussion Guide
Lynching Memorial Museum (Montgomery, Alabama)
- Please tell us your name and then briefly: Why did you decide to read the book and Why did you decide to come to the book discussion?
- Stevenson wished he had been more assertive with the police while they were illegally searching his car. Do you think that would have been effective? How would you recommend someone respond in a similar situation?
- How does diversity in the judicial system affect the outcomes of court cases?
- Discuss the super-predator theory.
The Coming of the Super-Predators
We’re talking about kids who have absolutely no respect for human life and no sense of the future….And make no mistake. While the trouble will be greatest in black inner-city neighborhoods, other places are also certain to have burgeoning youth-crime problems that will spill over into upscale central-city districts, inner-ring suburbs, and even the rural heartland.
….“They kill or maim on impulse, without any intelligible motive”….The buzz of impulsive violence, the vacant stares and smiles, and the remorseless eyes….they quite literally have no concept of the future….they place zero value on the lives of their victims, whom they reflexively dehumanize…. capable of committing the most heinous acts of physical violence for the most trivial reasons….for as long as their youthful energies hold out, they will do what comes “naturally”: murder, rape, rob, assault, burglarize, deal deadly drugs, and get high.
Criminologist and political scientist John DiIulio, 1995 Magazine article (https://bit.ly/2BL7q4v)
- Why is “To Kill a Mockingbird” (which is referenced often in this book) annoying to Stevenson?
- Discuss: “The jails are Georgia’s mental institutions.”
- In the 2018 Legislative Session a bill (HB768, http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/768) was introduced regarding lowering the burden of proof in death penalty cases of those with developmental disabilities. GA has the highest burden in the entire country. It did not pass. Why do you think it is so controversial?
- What are your thoughts on the issue of children being sentenced to death or jail without parole?
- Why is it difficult for ex-felons to re-enter society?
- What does Stevenson mean with the word “stonecatcher?” Do you know any?
- Did reading this book change you in any way?
- What will you do because you read this book?