The media source I chose for this post was the movie, Just Mercy. This movie (https://www.xfinity.com/stream/entity/5863072313018904112) was produced by the famous actor in it, Michael B. Jordan and Asher Goldstein and was released on January 10th, 2020. This movie follows the main character, Bryan Stevenson, who just graduated from Harvard and heads down to Alabama to defend the wrongfully convicted. It emphasized the importance of unfair institutions and describes the racism, corruption and cruelty that African Americans encounter on a daily basis.
This movie opens with Bryan Stevenson going to visit his first death row prisoner, Henry. Bryan explains to him how he became so passionate about criminal defense law after he had an internship with the Southern Center for Human Rights. He learned that the system was built to punish the poor more than the rich. His first case he represented a successful black businessman from a poor community in Monroeville, Alabama. He was wrongfully convicted of killing a white woman and sentenced to death row. Stevenson explains that racial bias and presumption of guilt led to Jonnie D’s conviction. He begins his case by visiting his family at their family home to get some insight on what may have happened. Of course, they were hesitant to accept his offer because the previous attorney took all their money and left. Once he explained to them that this is a nonprofit organization and they owe him no money they could not decline his offer. He then goes to visit Jonnie D in prison and when he does, Jonnie shows him nothing but happiness that Bryan talked to his family and is going to help. Throughout this movie we see the openly racist sheriffs, District Attorney and investigators that pursued his conviction. Together they bribed witnesses into false testimony, hid evidence and forced Meyers to testify even after he tried not to. Bryan was doing everything in his power to help Mr. McMillian, from staying up for hours to finding hidden evidence all to set this wrongfully convicted man free. He visits Meyers in prison to maybe get some information off of him, but he gives none. Once Stevenson uncovered the tapes of Meyer’s first statement that he knew nothing about the case, he revisited him at the prison. Meyer’s was hesitant at first but then told him he did frame him. Over this case Stevenson and his associates pursued a retrial, direct appeal, and a postconviction appeal on his behalf. When the D.A said there was going to be no retrial, he was determined to get justice. He sent the new evidence and Meyer’s tapes to the Supreme Court and they allowed a new trial. The D.A. began to doubt the integrity of the states conviction and confirmed that Jonnie D was innocent. In the final court hearing, Stevenson motions for the state to drop all charges and when the judge asked the D.A. he approved.
This movie expands on a lot of what we have learned in this class. Especially the last book we read, Policing the Black Man. Bryan Stevenson, the main character in this movie, is actually the first author to inform us in this book. He explains, “People of color in the United States, particularly young black men, are burdened with a presumption of guilt and dangerousness” (Stevenson, 4).That’s why Meyers was forced to frame Jonnie D, because he was an easier target for people to believe he was the murderer. We also see a lot of corruption throughout this movie towards the black community. In Angela Davis’s chapter she explains that, “Cops appear to be omnipresent and omnipotent. They seem to be everywhere, and they appear to have the power to do whatever they want-especially in black neighborhoods” (Davis, 178). One example from the movie that stuck with me was when Bryan was entering the prison. The guard stripped him almost naked and asked him to bend over just to mess with him. No attorney is stripped like that when entering a correctional facility, but because he was black it happened to him.
The content shown here has given me an even bigger understanding of the issues presented. It was already clear to me that the justice system is corrupt and there is an issue with wrongfully convicting people but coming from a true story and seeing it from their view opens your eyes much more. It presents to us how African Americans are treated in our criminal justice system whether a criminal or an attorney. I would recommend this to media source to everyone!! It is very informative, motivational and shows you a true case of a wrongfully convicted black man and the struggles he and his family endures.