The Toll of Representing Those on Death Row

Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, recently delivered the keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Open Door Community in Atlanta. Mr. Stevenson discussed how defending those on death row often takes a personal toll on those engaged in this work, even to the point of feeling “broken.” But, he added, “I’ve learned some very basic things, being a broken person. I’ve learned that each person is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done. I believe that if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar; if somebody takes something, they’re not just a thief; even if somebody kills someone, they’re not just a killer. And because of this, I believe that we have this need, this mission, this calling, to embrace them and to recognize this ‘something else.’” Read full text of Stevenson’s remarks here.

Bryan Stevenson is also a Professor at the New York University Law School.

(B. Stevenson, “Celebrating a Broken Community, Full of Grace and Love,” Hospitality, July 2012, published by Open Door Community). See Representation. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Representation.