In the Loop Book Club Discussion Questions: Just Mercy

The monthly In the Loop Book Club meets Saturday, February 4 at Harold Washington Library Center to discuss Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson, the founder of Equal Justice Initiative, is committed to challenging racial and economic injustice and to protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society.

Just Mercy is available in multiple formats.

Here are some discussion questions from the author's website to explore while you read the book:

  • In the introduction, he discusses his grandmother’s background and what impact that had on his career choices. What from your own personal background has influenced your career choices?
  • How does diversity in a jury affect its deliberations?
  • Why does it annoy Stevenson that To Kill a Mockingbird is a point of pride in Monroeville?
  • How does the race of the victim factor into decisions about sentencing?
  • Is justice being served when children are sentenced to die in prison?
  • Czech writer and statesman Václav Havel says people in difficult situations need what one thing? How did having this help Walter and his family?
  • Reflect on the statistics Stevenson cites for the imprisonment rates of women compared to men in the past decade. Why are these rates so different?
  • Reflect on the types of things kids do, and that you may have done as a kid, that could lead to criminal charges. In your opinion, are there ever reasonable situations where minors should be charged as adults?
  • According to Stevenson, what are the four institutions in American history that have shaped our approach to race and justice? Do you agree?

Here's a TED talk video of the author sharing his viewpoint and the work of his organization: