10 Questions With Bryan Stevenson
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Time Magazine
Posted: October 27th, 2014
TIME: Your book Just Mercy is about getting legal help for poor people in Alabama. What are the biggest impediments? BRYAN STEVENSON (Lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative): We have a criminal-justice system that treats you better if youre rich and guilty than if youre poor and innocent. I dont believe that Americas system is shaped by culpability. I think its shaped by wealth. TIME: 1 in 3 black men in the U.S. under 30 is in jail, on probation or on parole. Is this the scariest stat? STEVENSON: That 1 in 3 black males born in 2001 is expected to go to jail or prison during their lifetimes is more astonishing because its about the future. And 1 in 6 Latino boys. That wasnt true in the 20th century. TIME: What do you say to people who say, Its easy to not go to jaildont commit a crime? STEVENSON: In this country we have a presumption of guilt that follows young kids of color. Ive represented 10-year-olds being prosecuted as adults. They are put in an adult jail. Its so unnecessarywe have juvenile facilities. No one defends it, and yet we still have 10,000 children in an adult jail or prison. TIME: Whats the role of the corporations that build prisons? STEVENSON: Corporations have really corrupted American criminal justice by creating these perverse incentives where they actually pay legislators to create new crimes so that we can maintain these record-high-level rates of imprisonment. These companies spend millions of dollars a year on lobbying. Prison spending has gone from $6 billion in 1980 to $80 billion today.
Note: For more details about Stevenson's uphill battle as a legal advocate for the poor, read the full article of the Time interview at the link above. For more along these lines, see these excellent, concise summaries of prison corruption news stories from major media sources.