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TLNPG inductee and founder of Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Steveson siting wit his hands planted in from of a map of America.

Collection of the artist. Montreal, Canada. Portrait on canvas.

"Capital punishment means them without the capital get the punishment"

Bryan Stevenson is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice initiative, a public interest law firm in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to representing indigent death row clients and to handling civil rights litigation for the poor and minorities    

Stevenson, who is from a small town in rural Delaware, attended Harvard University Law School on a full scholarship. While at Harvard, he worked for Stephen Bright’s public interest law group, The Southern Center for Human Rights; Stevenson worked in the Center’s Alabama Division full time after graduation. In 1989, he was named the Director of the Alabama Operation, a federally-funded capital defense organization; he held that post until Congress eliminated the program in 1994.    

Bryan  Stevenson

Stevenson then founded the Equal Justice Initiative, guaranteeing a defense to anyone in Alabama sentenced to die. Gradually taking on a wider range of cases and social issues, The Equal Justice Initiative is now committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.    

Stevenson was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1995; he put all the funds from the grant into the Equal Justice Initiative. 

Stevenson is  a  force  to  be  reckoned  with. He has spearheaded litigation that has resulted in reversal of death sentences, limitations on life sentences for juveniles, changes in prison conditions, cessation of solitary confinement, mistreatment of the incarcerated mentally ill and detention of those unable to pay court fines.  

The Equal Justice initiative has recently taken on a pro-active role in the history of racism in America. EJI began researching all lynchings of African Americans in the South during the period 1877 to 1950; in 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama, along with a Museum, From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.

Stevenson is the author of two litigation guides and a best-selling book, Just Mercy. His TED talk on mercy and justice is one of the most watched of all time.

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