Jun 19, 2020
bonus episode of the Ideation Podcast, Bryan
Stevenson, Founder/Executive Director of the Equal Justice
Initiative (EJI) and inspiration for the recent movie Just Mercy,
shares his stories and thoughts on criminal justice reform,
courage, mercy, and being influenced by civil rights heroes like
Rosa Parks. This interview was originally recorded backstage at
Catalyst Conference in Atlanta a few years ago. We think Mr. Stevenson’s thoughts are
not only timeless but also timely for the conversations we’re
having today in our society around racial equity.
Stevenson's leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges
eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent
death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the
mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as
Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the United States
Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned
prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that
banned mandatory life-imprisonment-without-parole sentences for all
children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won
reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly
condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of
others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.
Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and
anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America.
He led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites which
opened in 2018: the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for
Peace and Justice. These new national landmark institutions
chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation,
and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of
racial bias. Mr. Stevenson is also a Professor of Law at the New
York University School of Law.