As You Read

Some  questions to consider as you read Just Mercy:

  • A key theme of Stevenson’s work is the necessity of getting close to one’s work. How do you get close to the issues that are most important to you?
  • As you read the book, what are your reactions to descriptions of the criminal justice system?
  • What challenges do you see formerly incarcerated people, whether deemed innocent or not, face when they reenter their community? What support, if any, do you believe should be provided to formerly incarcerated people and who should provide that support?
  • The book addresses the high rate of incarceration among individuals that have a serious mental illness. Do you believe individuals with mental illness convicted of crimes should receive different treatment within the criminal justice system? What protections would you consider important for prisoners with proven mental illness?
  • How does Bryan Stevenson’s personal background and status as an outsider in Alabama help his work? Are there any ways in which it is problematic – if so, why?
  • What do you think compelled Bryan Stevenson to carry on and stay the course without giving up despite the many challenges he faced along the way?
  • How does the author feel about the injustice that he has encountered in his career? What role do you think writing plays in bringing clarity to these feelings, and connecting them to actions?
  • We often think primarily of direct service in the community when considering how to give back, but that’s just one of many ways.  What are your own interests, skills, and background? How can you use those in service of the greater good while you are here at Bates?
  • A studio has purchased the rights to make a movie adaptation of Just Mercy. What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling this story as a film rather than in book form? If you were hired as the director, how would you make this movie?