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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Guest attorney Bryan Stevenson discusses the Equal Justice Initiative

Today's guest on the Beasley Allen Report is Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). He talks to show host Gibson Vance about the program, which 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. Stevenson earned a B.A. in philosophy, and says he was not sure what he wanted to do with his future, so he pursued two graduate degrees, earning his J.D. from Harvard Law School as well as a degree in Public Policy from the Harvard School for Government. While in law school, he worked with an organization called the Southern Center for Civil Rights, which provided legal assistance to people on death row. "Meeting people who were literally dying for legal assistance was, for me, pretty transformative," he says. It solidified his decision to become a lawyer. He was troubled by a civil justice system that he felt often "treats you better if you're rich and guilty than poor and innocent." Some of EJI's goals are to see the prison population reduced, ensure greater fairness in the justice system, provide more opportunities for people who make mistakes to recover, and eliminate excessively cruel sentences.

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