“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us…. 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. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.” - Bryan Stevenson.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2014. 289-90.
Jimmy Dill was a client of the Equal Justice Initiative who was executed by the state of Alabama in 2009. Like many of EJI’s clients, and many victims of state-sponsored murder, Jimmy was poor, black, and living with an intellectual disability. According to EJI’s press release at the time of Dill’s execution, “Jimmy Dill’s case is an extraordinary one because he received such grossly inadequate legal assistance that neither the jury nor the courts had the evidence needed to make a reliable decision about whether Mr. Dill was guilty of capital murder or whether a death sentence was appropriate. Because he was poor, Mr. Dill had only an appointed lawyer whose pay was limited to $1000 and who did not investigate or present evidence in Mr. Dill’s defense. Some 70% of the people on Alabama’s death row were represented at trial by lawyers whose compensation was capped at $1000.” Equal Justice Initiative. Alabama Executes Jimmy Dill. April 17, 2009. http://www.eji.org/node/293.
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