Top 100

Top 250 Bryan Stevenson Quotes (2023 Update)
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Bryan Stevenson Quote: “One of the country’s least-discussed postwar problems is how frequently combat veterans bring the traumas of war back with them and are incarcerated after returning to their communities.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Between 1990 and 2005, a new prison opened in the United States every ten days.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “My parents, who grew up in terror and dealt with segregation and humiliation, nonetheless taught us to be hopeful and open and loving and not hateful toward anyone.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Finally I got to the point where I said, I’d like to start a project where we can actually talk about race and poverty, not through the lens of a particular case, but much more broadly.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Walter told me that it was working from morning until night, being outdoors, that made him feel normal again. Then one afternoon, tragedy struck. He was cutting a tree when a branch dislodged and struck him, breaking his neck. It was a serious injury that left Walter in very poor condition for several weeks. He didn’t have a lot of care available, so he came to live with me in Montgomery for several months until he recovered.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Children are the products of an environment over which they have no real control – passengers through narrow pathways in a world they never made.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Constantly being suspected, accused, watched, doubted, distrusted, presumed guilty, and even feared is a burden borne by people of color that can’t be understood or confronted without a deeper conversation about our history of racial injustice.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Sometimes I forget how we all need mitigation at some point.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Walter had taught me that mercy is just when it is rooted in hopefulness and freely given. Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion. Walter genuinely forgave the people who unfairly accused him, the people who convicted him, and the people who had judged him unworthy of mercy.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I do what I do because I’m broken, too.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and – perhaps – we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Ms. Parks leaned back, smiling. “Oooh honey, all that’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.” We all laughed, I looked down, a little embarrassed. Then Ms. Carr leaned forward and put her finger in my face and talked to me just like my grandmother used to talk to me. She said, “That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Do you have children?” He looked up at me expectantly. “No, I don’t have children. I have nieces and nephews, though.” “What is your favorite color?” He once again smiled eagerly. I chuckled, since I don’t have a favorite color. But I wanted to respond to him. “Brown.” “Okay, my last question is the most important.” He looked up at me briefly with big eyes and smiled. He then became serious and read his question. “Who is your favorite cartoon character?” He was beaming when he looked at me.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “It’s been so strange, Bryan. More people have asked me what they can do to help me in the last fourteen hours of my life than ever asked me in the years when I was coming up.” He looked at me, and his face twisted in confusion.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Well, you know you can’t help everybody,” he looked at me earnestly. “You’ll kill yourself if you try to do that.” He continued looking at me with concern. I smiled. “I know.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Herbert sighed and looked away. “It’s been so strange, Bryan. More people have asked me what they can do to help me in the last fourteen hours of my life than ever asked me in the years when I was coming up.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I continue to meet stone catchers along the way who inspire me and make me believe that we can do better than we’ve done for the accused, convicted, and condemned among us – as well as those who are victimized by crime and violence – and that all of us can do better for one another. The work continues.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Today we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. The prison population has increased from 300,000 people in the early 1970s to 2.3 million people today. There are nearly six million people on probation or on parole. One in every fifteen people born in the United States in 2001 is expected to go to jail or prison; one in every three black male babies born in this century is expected to be incarcerated.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “The bad things that happen to us don’t define us. It’s just important sometimes that people understand where we’re coming from.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I decided to talk to youth groups, churches, and community organizations about the challenges posed by the presumption of guilt assigned to the poor and people of color. I spoke at local meetings and tried to sensitize people to the need to insist on accountability from law enforcement.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “But Walter’s case also taught me something else: there is light within this darkness.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “While these reforms were desperately needed, deinstitutionalization intersected with the spread of mass imprisonment policies – expanding criminal statutes and harsh sentencing – to disastrous effect.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “His struggle to form words and his determination to express gratitude reinforced his humanity for me, and it made thinking about his impending execution unbearable. Why couldn’t they see it, too?”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “You’ve got to beat the drum for justice.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “As he walked to the car, Walter raised his arms and gently moved them up and down as if he meant to take flight. He looked at me and said, “I feel like a bird, I feel like a bird.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Walter made me understand why we have to reform a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent. A system that denies the poor the legal help they need, that makes wealth and status more important than culpability, must be changed... Fear and anger are a threat to justice; they can infect a community, a state, or a nation and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “We emphasized the incongruity of not allowing children to smoke, drink, vote, drive without restrictions, give blood, buy guns, and a range of other behaviors because of their well-recognized lack of maturity and judgment while simultaneously treating some of the most at-risk, neglected, and impaired children exactly the same as full-grown adults in the criminal justice system.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “The privatization of prison health care, prison commerce, and a range of services has made mass incarceration a money-making windfall for a few and a costly nightmare for the rest of us.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “She continued talking enthusiastically about the story until I promised to visit the museum as soon as I could. I refrained from explaining that I was too busy working on the case of an innocent black man the community was trying to execute after a racially biased prosecution.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “The last thing I was interested in was a fictional story about justice.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I thought of the people who would cheer his death and see it as some kind of victory. I realized they were broken people, too, even if they would never admit it. So many of us have become afraid and angry.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “When I first went to death row in December 1983, America was in the early stages of a radical transformation that would turn us into an unprecedentedly harsh and punitive nation and result in mass imprisonment that has no historical parallel.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Presumptions of guilt, poverty, racial bias, and a host of other social, structural, and political dynamics have created a system that is defined by error, a system in which thousands of innocent people now suffer in prison.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “For a hundred years, any sign of black progress in the South could trigger a white reaction that would invariably invoke Confederate symbols and talk of resistance.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “In 2014, Trina turned fifty-two. She has been in prison for thirty-eight years. She is one of nearly five hundred people in Pennsylvania who have been condemned to mandatory life imprisonment without parole for crimes they were accused of committing when they were between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. It is the largest population of child offenders condemned to die in prison in any single jurisdiction in the world.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “It was deeply affirming to meet someone whose work so powerfully animated his life.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I was around all these murderers, and yet it felt like sometimes they were the only ones trying to help me.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Going into any prison is deeply confusing if you know anything about the racial demographics of America. The extreme overrepresentation of people of color, the disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, the targeted prosecution of drug crimes in poor communities, the criminalization of new immigrants and undocumented people, the collateral consequences of voter disenfranchisement, and the barriers to re-entry can only be fully understood through the lens of our racial history.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “The drugs became scarce, which prompted state correctional authorities to obtain them illegally, without complying with FDA rules that regulate the interstate sale and transfer of drugs. Drug raids of state correctional facilities were a bizarre consequence of this surreal drug dealing to carry out executions.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “They were legally condemned children hidden away in adult prisons, largely unknown and forgotten, preoccupied with surviving in dangerous, terrifying environments with little family support or outside help. They weren’t exceptional. There were thousands of children like them scattered throughout prisons in the United States – children who had been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or other extreme sentences.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “He was trying to acculturate himself to a world that corrupted healthy human development in every way.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “It wasn’t until 1967 that the United States Supreme Court finally struck down anti-miscegenation statutes.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “The Supreme Court had banned the execution of people with intellectual disability, but states like Alabama refused to assess in any honest way whether the condemned are disabled. We’re supposed to sentence people fairly after fully considering their life circumstances, but instead we exploit the inability of the poor to get the legal assistance they need – all so we can kill them with less resistance.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “The fourth institution is mass incarceration. Going into any prison is deeply confusing if you know anything about the racial demographics of America. The extreme overrepresentation of people of color, the disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, the targeted prosecution of drug.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “I am more than broken. In fact, there is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Gadsden, Alabama, where jail officials claimed that a thirty-nine-year-old black man had died of natural causes after being arrested for traffic violations. His family maintained that he was beaten by police and jail officials who then denied him his asthma inhaler and medication despite his begging for it.”
Bryan Stevenson Quote: “Alabama had more juveniles sentenced to death per capita than any other state – or any other country in the world.”
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