Mr. Bryan Stevenson
Criminal justice can be controversial, but Americans overwhelmingly agree that the legal system should provide fair processes and accurate outcomes. The 2002 Bellwood Lecturer has devoted his career to those goals.
Bryan Stevenson is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. A graduate of Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, he has represented capital defendants and death row prisoners in the Deep South since 1985 when he was a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1989 he has directed a non-profit organization that defends the legal rights of the poor and people of color in Alabama. He has been recognized by several national publications and organizations as one of the nation’s top public interest lawyers.
Stevenson’s work on behalf of condemned prisoners has won him national acclaim. In 1995 he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Award Prize. He is a 1989 recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the 1991 ACLU National Medal of Liberty, and the 1993 Thurgood Marshall Medal of Justice, and in 1996 the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers named him the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year. He has also received honorary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Georgetown University Law School. Stevenson has served as a visiting professor of law at the University of Michigan School of Law and New York University School of Law, published several widely disseminated manuals on capital litigation, and written exclusively on criminal justice, capital punishment, and civil rights issues.
The Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama is a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Alabama remains one of the few states in America that does not have a statewide public defender system. With few exceptions, defense services for the poor in Alabama are provided by court-appointed counsel who are compensated at some of the lowest rates in the nation. The Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, with a legal staff of 6 attorneys, represents nearly 100 of the approximately 187 condemned men, women, and juveniles currently facing execution in the state of Alabama.
Bryan Stevenson writes about our broken system of justice in New York Times Best Seller “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.” The Autobiographical work won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction, and is a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Bryan Stevenson appeared with Michael B. Jordan on The Ellen Show in Jan. 2020.