We need to talk about an injustice | Bryan Stevenson

Well this is a really extraordinary honor for me. I spend most of my time in jails, in prisons, on death row. I spend most of my time in very low-income communities in the projects and places where there’s a great deal of hopelessness. And being here at TED and seeing the stimulation, hearing it, has been very, very energizing to me. And one of the things that’s emerged in my short time here is that TED has an identity. And you can actually say things here that have impacts around the world. And sometimes when it comes through TED, it has meaning and power that it doesn’t have when it doesn’t. And I mention that because I think identity is really important. And we’ve had some fantastic presentations. And I think what we’ve learned is that, if you’re a teacher your words can be meaningful, but if you’re a compassionate teacher, they can be especially meaningful. If you’re a doctor you can do some good things, but if you’re a caring doctor you can do some other things. And so I want to talk about the power of identity. And I didn’t learn about this actually practicing law and doing the work that I do. I actually learned about this from my grandmother. I grew up in a house that was the traditional African-American home that was dominated by a matriarch, and that matriarch was my grandmother. She was tough, she was strong, she was powerful. She was the end of every argument in our family. She was the beginning of a lot of arguments in our family. She was the daughter of people who were actually enslaved. Her parents were born in slavery in Virginia in the 1840’s. She was born in the 1880’s and the experience of slavery very much shaped the way she saw the world. And my grandmother was tough, but she was also loving. When I would see her as a little boy, she’d come up to me and she’d give me these hugs. And she’d squeeze me so tight I could barely breathe and then she’d let me go. And an hour or two later, if I saw her, she’d come over to me and she’d say, “Bryan, do you still feel me hugging you?” And if I said, “No,” she’d assault me again, and if I said, “Yes,” she’d leave me alone. And she just had this quality that you always wanted to be near her. And the only challenge was that she had 10 children. My mom was the youngest of her 10 kids. And sometimes when I would go and spend time with her, it would be difficult to get her time and attention. My cousins would be running around everywhere. And I remember, when I was about eight or nine years old, waking up one morning, going into the living room, and all of my cousins were running around. And my grandmother was sitting across the room staring at me. And at first I thought we were playing a game. And I would look at her and I’d smile, but she was very serious. And after about 15 or 20 minutes of this, she got up and she came across the room and she took me by the hand and she said, “Come on, Bryan. You and I are going to have a talk.” And I remember this just like it happened yesterday. I never will forget it. She took me out back and she said, “Bryan, I’m going to tell you something, but you don’t tell anybody what I tell you.” I said, “Okay, Mama.” She said, “Now you make sure you don’t do that.” I said, “Sure.” Then she sat me down and she looked at me and she said, “I want you to know I’ve been watching you.” And she said, “I think you’re special.” She said, “I think you can do anything you want to do.” I will never forget it. And then she said, “I just need you to promise me three things, Bryan.” I said, “Okay, Mama.” She said, “The first thing I want you to promise me is that you’ll always love your mom.” She said, “That’s my baby girl, and you have to promise me now you’ll always take care of her.” Well I adored my mom, so I said, “Yes, Mama. I’ll do that.” Then she said, “The second thing I want you to promise me is that you’ll always do the right thing even when the right thing is the hard thing.” And I thought about it and I said, “Yes, Mama. I’ll do that.” Then finally she said, “The third thing I want you to promise me is that you’ll never drink alcohol.” (Laughter) Well I was nine years old, so I said, “Yes, Mama. I’ll do that.” I grew up in the country in the rural South, and I have a brother a year older than me and a sister a year younger. When I was about 14 or 15, one day my brother came home and he had this six-pack of beer — I don’t know where he got it — and he grabbed me and my sister and we went out in the woods. And we were kind of just out there doing the stuff we crazily did. And he had a sip of this beer and he gave some to my sister and she had some, and they offered it to me. I said, “No, no, no. That’s okay. You all go ahead. I’m not going to have any beer.” My brother said, “Come on. We’re doing this today; you always do what we do. I had some, your sister had some. Have some beer.” I said, “No, I don’t feel right about that. Y’all go ahead. Y’all go ahead.” And then my brother started staring at me. He said, “What’s wrong with you? Have some beer.” Then he looked at me real hard and he said, “Oh, I hope you’re not still hung up on that conversation Mama had with you.” (Laughter) I said, “Well, what are you talking about?” He said, “Oh, Mama tells all the grandkids that they’re special.” (Laughter) I was devastated. (Laughter) And I’m going to admit something to you. I’m going to tell you something I probably shouldn’t. I know this might be broadcast broadly. But I’m 52 years old, and I’m going to admit to you that I’ve never had a drop of alcohol. (Applause) I don’t say that because I think that’s virtuous; I say that because there is power in identity. When we create the right kind of identity, we can say things to the world around us that they don’t actually believe makes sense. We can get them to do things that they don’t think they can do. When I thought about my grandmother, of course she would think all her grandkids were special. My grandfather was in prison during prohibition. My male uncles died of alcohol-related diseases. And these were the things she thought we needed to commit to. Well I’ve been trying to say something about our criminal justice system. This country is very different today than it was 40 years ago. In 1972, there were 300,000 people in jails and prisons. Today, there are 2.3 million. The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We have seven million people on probation and parole. And mass incarceration, in my judgment, has fundamentally changed our world. In poor communities, in communities of color there is this despair, there is this hopelessness, that is being shaped by these outcomes. One out of three black men between the ages of 18 and 30 is in jail, in prison, on probation or parole. In urban communities across this country — Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington — 50 to 60 percent of all young men of color are in jail or prison or on probation or parole. Our system isn’t just being shaped in these ways that seem to be distorting around race, they’re also distorted by poverty. We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes. And yet, we seem to be very comfortable. The politics of fear and anger have made us believe that these are problems that are not our problems. We’ve been disconnected. It’s interesting to me. We’re looking at some very interesting developments in our work. My state of Alabama, like a number of states, actually permanently disenfranchises you if you have a criminal conviction. Right now in Alabama 34 percent of the black male population has permanently lost the right to vote. We’re actually projecting in another 10 years the level of disenfranchisement will be as high as it’s been since prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. And there is this stunning silence. I represent children. A lot of my clients are very young. The United States is the only country in the world where we sentence 13-year-old children to die in prison. We have life imprisonment without parole for kids in this country. And we’re actually doing some litigation. The only country in the world. I represent people on death row. It’s interesting, this question of the death penalty. In many ways, we’ve been taught to think that the real question is, do people deserve to die for the crimes they’ve committed? And that’s a very sensible question. But there’s another way of thinking about where we are in our identity. The other way of thinking about it is not, do people deserve to die for the crimes they commit, but do we deserve to kill? I mean, it’s fascinating. Death penalty in America is defined by error. For every nine people who have been executed, we’ve actually identified one innocent person who’s been exonerated and released from death row. A kind of astonishing error rate — one out of nine people innocent. I mean, it’s fascinating. In aviation, we would never let people fly on airplanes if for every nine planes that took off one would crash. But somehow we can insulate ourselves from this problem. It’s not our problem. It’s not our burden. It’s not our struggle. I talk a lot about these issues. I talk about race and this question of whether we deserve to kill. And it’s interesting, when I teach my students about African-American history, I tell them about slavery. I tell them about terrorism, the era that began at the end of reconstruction that went on to World War II. We don’t really know very much about it. But for African-Americans in this country, that was an era defined by terror. In many communities, people had to worry about being lynched. They had to worry about being bombed. It was the threat of terror that shaped their lives. And these older people come up to me now and they say, “Mr. Stevenson, you give talks, you make speeches, you tell people to stop saying we’re dealing with terrorism for the first time in our nation’s history after 9/11.” They tell me to say, “No, tell them that we grew up with that.” And that era of terrorism, of course, was followed by segregation and decades of racial subordination and apartheid. And yet, we have in this country this dynamic where we really don’t like to talk about our problems. We don’t like to talk about our history. And because of that, we really haven’t understood what it’s meant to do the things we’ve done historically. We’re constantly running into each other. We’re constantly creating tensions and conflicts. We have a hard time talking about race, and I believe it’s because we are unwilling to commit ourselves to a process of truth and reconciliation. In South Africa, people understood that we couldn’t overcome apartheid without a commitment to truth and reconciliation. In Rwanda, even after the genocide, there was this commitment, but in this country we haven’t done that. I was giving some lectures in Germany about the death penalty. It was fascinating because one of the scholars stood up after the presentation and said, “Well you know it’s deeply troubling to hear what you’re talking about.” He said, “We don’t have the death penalty in Germany. And of course, we can never have the death penalty in Germany.” And the room got very quiet, and this woman said, “There’s no way, with our history, we could ever engage in the systematic killing of human beings. It would be unconscionable for us to, in an intentional and deliberate way, set about executing people.” And I thought about that. What would it feel like to be living in a world where the nation state of Germany was executing people, especially if they were disproportionately Jewish? I couldn’t bear it. It would be unconscionable. And yet, in this country, in the states of the Old South, we execute people — where you’re 11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white than if the victim is black, 22 times more likely to get it if the defendant is black and the victim is white — in the very states where there are buried in the ground the bodies of people who were lynched. And yet, there is this disconnect. Well I believe that our identity is at risk. That when we actually don’t care about these difficult things, the positive and wonderful things are nonetheless implicated. We love innovation. We love technology. We love creativity. We love entertainment. But ultimately, those realities are shadowed by suffering, abuse, degradation, marginalization. And for me, it becomes necessary to integrate the two. Because ultimately we are talking about a need to be more hopeful, more committed, more dedicated to the basic challenges of living in a complex world. And for me that means spending time thinking and talking about the poor, the disadvantaged, those who will never get to TED. But thinking about them in a way that is integrated in our own lives. You know ultimately, we all have to believe things we haven’t seen. We do. As rational as we are, as committed to intellect as we are. Innovation, creativity, development comes not from the ideas in our mind alone. They come from the ideas in our mind that are also fueled by some conviction in our heart. And it’s that mind-heart connection that I believe compels us to not just be attentive to all the bright and dazzly things, but also the dark and difficult things. Vaclav Havel, the great Czech leader, talked about this. He said, “When we were in Eastern Europe and dealing with oppression, we wanted all kinds of things, but mostly what we needed was hope, an orientation of the spirit, a willingness to sometimes be in hopeless places and be a witness.” Well that orientation of the spirit is very much at the core of what I believe even TED communities have to be engaged in. There is no disconnect around technology and design that will allow us to be fully human until we pay attention to suffering, to poverty, to exclusion, to unfairness, to injustice. Now I will warn you that this kind of identity is a much more challenging identity than ones that don’t pay attention to this. It will get to you. I had the great privilege, when I was a young lawyer, of meeting Rosa Parks. And Ms. Parks used to come back to Montgomery every now and then, and she would get together with two of her dearest friends, these older women, Johnnie Carr who was the organizer of the Montgomery bus boycott — amazing African-American woman — and Virginia Durr, a white woman, whose husband, Clifford Durr, represented Dr. King. And these women would get together and just talk. And every now and then Ms. Carr would call me, and she’d say, “Bryan, Ms. Parks is coming to town. We’re going to get together and talk. Do you want to come over and listen?” And I’d say, “Yes, Ma’am, I do.” And she’d say, “Well what are you going to do when you get here?” I said, “I’m going to listen.” And I’d go over there and I would, I would just listen. It would be so energizing and so empowering. And one time I was over there listening to these women talk, and after a couple of hours Ms. Parks turned to me and she said, “Now Bryan, tell me what the Equal Justice Initiative is. Tell me what you’re trying to do.” And I began giving her my rap. I said, “Well we’re trying to challenge injustice. We’re trying to help people who have been wrongly convicted. We’re trying to confront bias and discrimination in the administration of criminal justice. We’re trying to end life without parole sentences for children. We’re trying to do something about the death penalty. We’re trying to reduce the prison population. We’re trying to end mass incarceration.” I gave her my whole rap, and when I finished she looked at me and she said, “Mmm mmm mmm.” She said, “That’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.” (Laughter) And that’s when Ms. Carr leaned forward, she put her finger in my face, she said, “That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.” And I actually believe that the TED community needs to be more courageous. We need to find ways to embrace these challenges, these problems, the suffering. Because ultimately, our humanity depends on everyone’s humanity. I’ve learned very simple things doing the work that I do. It’s just taught me very simple things. I’ve come to understand and to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet. I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that there’s this basic human dignity that must be respected by law. I also believe that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth. I don’t believe that. I actually think, in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice. And finally, I believe that, despite the fact that it is so dramatic and so beautiful and so inspiring and so stimulating, we will ultimately not be judged by our technology, we won’t be judged by our design, we won’t be judged by our intellect and reason. Ultimately, you judge the character of a society, not by how they treat their rich and the powerful and the privileged, but by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated. Because it’s in that nexus that we actually begin to understand truly profound things about who we are. I sometimes get out of balance. I’ll end with this story. I sometimes push too hard. I do get tired, as we all do. Sometimes those ideas get ahead of our thinking in ways that are important. And I’ve been representing these kids who have been sentenced to do these very harsh sentences. And I go to the jail and I see my client who’s 13 and 14, and he’s been certified to stand trial as an adult. I start thinking, well, how did that happen? How can a judge turn you into something that you’re not? And the judge has certified him as an adult, but I see this kid. And I was up too late one night and I starting thinking, well gosh, if the judge can turn you into something that you’re not, the judge must have magic power. Yeah, Bryan, the judge has some magic power. You should ask for some of that. And because I was up too late, wasn’t thinking real straight, I started working on a motion. And I had a client who was 14 years old, a young, poor black kid. And I started working on this motion, and the head of the motion was: “Motion to try my poor, 14-year-old black male client like a privileged, white 75-year-old corporate executive.” (Applause) And I put in my motion that there was prosecutorial misconduct and police misconduct and judicial misconduct. There was a crazy line in there about how there’s no conduct in this county, it’s all misconduct. And the next morning, I woke up and I thought, now did I dream that crazy motion, or did I actually write it? And to my horror, not only had I written it, but I had sent it to court. (Applause) A couple months went by, and I had just forgotten all about it. And I finally decided, oh gosh, I’ve got to go to the court and do this crazy case. And I got into my car and I was feeling really overwhelmed — overwhelmed. And I got in my car and I went to this courthouse. And I was thinking, this is going to be so difficult, so painful. And I finally got out of the car and I started walking up to the courthouse. And as I was walking up the steps of this courthouse, there was an older black man who was the janitor in this courthouse. When this man saw me, he came over to me and he said, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m a lawyer.” He said, “You’re a lawyer?” I said, “Yes, sir.” And this man came over to me and he hugged me. And he whispered in my ear. He said, “I’m so proud of you.” And I have to tell you, it was energizing. It connected deeply with something in me about identity, about the capacity of every person to contribute to a community, to a perspective that is hopeful. Well I went into the courtroom. And as soon as I walked inside, the judge saw me coming in. He said, “Mr. Stevenson, did you write this crazy motion?” I said, “Yes, sir. I did.” And we started arguing. And people started coming in because they were just outraged. I had written these crazy things. And police officers were coming in and assistant prosecutors and clerk workers. And before I knew it, the courtroom was filled with people angry that we were talking about race, that we were talking about poverty, that we were talking about inequality. And out of the corner of my eye, I could see this janitor pacing back and forth. And he kept looking through the window, and he could hear all of this holler. He kept pacing back and forth. And finally, this older black man with this very worried look on his face came into the courtroom and sat down behind me, almost at counsel table. About 10 minutes later the judge said we would take a break. And during the break there was a deputy sheriff who was offended that the janitor had come into court. And this deputy jumped up and he ran over to this older black man. He said, “Jimmy, what are you doing in this courtroom?” And this older black man stood up and he looked at that deputy and he looked at me and he said, “I came into this courtroom to tell this young man, keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.” I’ve come to TED because I believe that many of you understand that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. That we cannot be full evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone. That our visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with visions of humanity, compassion and justice. And more than anything, for those of you who share that, I’ve simply come to tell you to keep your eyes on the prize, hold on. Thank you very much. (Applause) Chris Anderson: So you heard and saw an obvious desire by this audience, this community, to help you on your way and to do something on this issue. Other than writing a check, what could we do? BS: Well there are opportunities all around us. If you live in the state of California, for example, there’s a referendum coming up this spring where actually there’s going to be an effort to redirect some of the money we spend on the politics of punishment. For example, here in California we’re going to spend one billion dollars on the death penalty in the next five years — one billion dollars. And yet, 46 percent of all homicide cases don’t result in arrest. 56 percent of all rape cases don’t result. So there’s an opportunity to change that. And this referendum would propose having those dollars go to law enforcement and safety. And I think that opportunity exists all around us. CA: There’s been this huge decline in crime in America over the last three decades. And part of the narrative of that is sometimes that it’s about increased incarceration rates. What would you say to someone who believed that? BS: Well actually the violent crime rate has remained relatively stable. The great increase in mass incarceration in this country wasn’t really in violent crime categories. It was this misguided war on drugs. That’s where the dramatic increases have come in our prison population. And we got carried away with the rhetoric of punishment. And so we have three strikes laws that put people in prison forever for stealing a bicycle, for low-level property crimes, rather than making them give those resources back to the people who they victimized. I believe we need to do more to help people who are victimized by crime, not do less. And I think our current punishment philosophy does nothing for no one. And I think that’s the orientation that we have to change. (Applause) CA: Bryan, you’ve struck a massive chord here. You’re an inspiring person. Thank you so much for coming to TED. Thank you. (Applause)

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. This was so good. I found out about him through Anthony Ray Hinton's case. Now I need to check out his book.

  2. Thank you for words of encouragement. It's much needed I always try to be considerate,kind, non-judgemental. Only to feel judged and excluded on a basic human level daily. Not always but over the last 25yrs I moved from NYC to upstate NY and have dealt with a feeling of dissapointment and discouragment on a basic human level. Thank you so much. God Bless you

  3. Yes! I'd spent 2000+ days in county jail awaiting for my trial in solitary confinement which ended basically time served https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OwuEbUPUbw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpmjFaSrsxA What Mr Stevenson is talking about is good in theory, but will is happen? Not in my lifetime.

  4. اقای پنکیوبایدتحریم کشورم رابایدبرداره؟هشدارجدی میدم؟باهیچکس شوخی ندارم؟

  5. The three strikes policy is for felonies and violent crimes. Lawyer's lie it's their job to distort the truth. A good message though that still rings true

  6. I mean it's been 6 years since this upload and nothing has changed. We actually elected Trump since this video uploaded. I don't think talking to the people in power helps…..Maybe a new strategy is needed…..

  7. Thank you, Mr. Stevenson. Your talk has really given me cause to consider my own action or lack thereof. It is a call arms. I hope you message is widespread. It could really make a difference in so many.

  8. "We have a system of justice in this country that treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent" I watched 13th on Netflix (cannot highly recommend enough – Academy Award-nominated documentary with different viewpoints and connections that I didn't even know about) and Bryan Stevenson was one of the people interviewed for the documentary. He speaks so calmly and clearly and obviously has a good head for what's right. He really knew what he ws talking about.

  9. For a book that shows reveals much of America's racial injustice, yet shows a way to healing, search Amazon for — Off the Race Track.

  10. Thank you. Engaging in conversation about race is absolutely necessary. Repression has created a lot of havoc in our Education systems.

  11. 1. Nonhuman animals feel pain, pleasure, fear and other sensations. If they feel these sensations, then they have an interest in not being used merely as a resource for human pleasure, amusement, or convenience.

    2. There is no necessity for human animals to intentionally exploit nonhuman animals and cause them to suffer or die except our own enjoyment of the taste of their flesh/secretions and the convenience that animal exploitation affords us. Humans have no dietary need for flesh, dairy, eggs or honey:


    We have no need to use animals for clothing; we have no need to use them for entertainment; not only is it morally unjustifiable to use nonhumans in bio-medical research, but more humans suffer and/or die when we do so than if we didn't use nonhumans at all:



    3. When something is unnecessary except for our trivial pleasure or convenience and that thing causes some being (for example, a nonhuman or human animal) to experience pain, fear or other kinds of suffering, then the harm being done to that being's interest in their continued survival, freedoms, or not suffering is more important than our interest in our own mere pleasure, amusement or convenience.

    4. We claim to believe in "fairness/ethical/moral consistency" as a "moral good", which means we believe in treating similar cases similarly when it comes to ethics/morality. In other words, if we believe it's wrong to beat a human child for no good reason because they will suffer from a beating, then we should also believe that it's wrong to beat a dog, cow, or chicken for no good reason because the nonhuman will also suffer.

    So, if we value moral consistency at all, which means we treat similar cases similarly, the minimum and only criteria needed to include nonhuman animals in our moral sphere (meaning we believe we should not harm them at all for no good reason) is that they feel pain, fear, and other sensations, since that is the minimum criteria we use to include humans in our moral sphere.

    5. Any characteristic that humans claim to have that we claim makes us morally superior to nonhuman animals cannot be factually proven to be a humans-only trait. Unless we can prove that we are morally superior to nonhuman animals, any argument that we claim justifies intentionally harming and exploiting nonhumans can also be used to justify humans intentionally exploiting other humans:


    This means that if we personally are in favor of violating nonhumans' right to be safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured or killed by humans then we have no claim that we ourselves should be safe from having those same things done to us by other humans. Any argument we try to use to justify harm to nonhumans can also be used successfully by other humans to justify harming us in those same ways.

    6. If we accept premises 1 through 4, our ethical/moral obligation is to either a) cease any actions that intentionally cause unnecessary suffering and death to other beings such as nonhuman and human animals, in which case we can claim that our interests in avoiding the same harms should not be dismissed without due consideration, and we can point to the fact that this is because we are morally consistent, or b) admit that we are not morally consistent and that any human who wishes to dismiss our interests in avoiding the same harms without due consideration is also morally justified in doing so.

    Conclusion: If we don't stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans to the best of our ability, all the things we consider atrocities and systemic problems in the world will never end. We also will not be able to consider ourselves truly morally consistent people. To stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans completely means Abolitionist Veganism.

    To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism, go here:

  12. Ted I have a female friend she was judge unfairly she been incarcerated for 12 years already she's in Corona prison in California. Her name is Zenaida Cordova please examine her case.

  13. Thank you so much mr Stevenson for your love ,compassion and commitment! For fair and justice of our people there should be millions of blk men standing with you for a change, much love sir .

  14. I know this was made a while ago but I just finished reading "Just Mercy" and I realize now how stupid america is as a country and I'm so glad there's people like him in this world to make us better and who actually want to help people who need the help. Thank you to Bryan

  15. My son, who just happens to be incarcerated in the state of Wisconsin, brought me here. My ONLY child received a 25 year sentence, for PROVEN self defense, has spent 8 yrs in prison because the judge WOULD NOT address the questions that the jurors posed when asking for clarification on the charges, the prosecutor TOLD LIE after LIE instead of presenting the facts that led to my Son having to defend himself as well as the BLATANT tampering with evidence and witnesses. While in the process of obtaining our own EXPERIENCED criminal law attorney, the judge declared my Son as indigent and appointed an attorney that admitted to NEVER HAVING the experience of a criminal law case…AND the fact that this court appointed attorney was under criminal investigation for misconduct!! Oh I forgot to mention that because the trial took place about a week before Xmas that year, the case was "rushed" because the judge announced that "we need to wrap this up… It's almost Christmas and I have things to do." This statement is in the transcripts!!

  16. No one is punishable.

    Why? The answer is simple: "Have we asked to exist?" Have we asked to exist as we are? Have we asked for an imperfect body, an imperfect intellect? Have we asked to be poorly educated? Have we asked to be born here or there, in this or that part of the world, in this or that culture, in this or that society?

    We are all innocent to exist. We are all innocent of our bodies, our intellects, our education, our parents, our educators, the world, culture, society. We are born like white books. Everything that comes into this white book, that is to say our brain, our body, will be installed by our educators, by nature, by society, by culture, without anyone knowing how to write in this white book. We, the owners of the book, we do not even know how to write in this book that works alone. This book was a white book at birth, it remains a black box all life.

    We did not ask to be born such white books, we did not ask that it be a black box. It is an obligation that has been made to exist in this way. We are not responsible for existing. Moreover, we are "aresponsible" (without responsibility) to exist as everything that exists in the universe. No one can be punished. There is no reason for punishment because we have all been asked by society. We exist because society needs us, but as society does not know how to educate perfectly, it facilitates the work by getting rid of the mistakes it makes.

    It's absurd, it's stupid, it's filthy, because society cannot ignore this notion of being "aresponsible" (without responsibility) for any form of existence.


    "A simple argument against the death penalty…"


    "We all are innocent to exist. All without exception. This lack of responsibility for the initiation of our existence implies innocence of all our actions during our existence…"


    The creation of an existence only serves those that already exist and nobody masters this creation neither the way that will follow this existence. Once you have made a suffering being, how do you undo suffering? Make peace yourself before inviting me on your planet, do not ask me to do it for you, invite me to Earth when peace is made.

  17. "A simple argument against the death penalty :

    The fundamental reason against punishment, whatever it may be, and the death penalty in particular, is so obvious that one must ask why no one seems to see it.

    This reason is that no one has asked to exist.

    We exist because our parents have desired us. We are all guests of this planet. Yet we are here to serve them, as they served their parents. They made us with the social agreement, that is to say that society authorized, and even strongly encouraged our parents to manufacture us.

    We exist without having asked for it, and we exist with a body and an intellect that we have not asked for. We did not ask to be educated in such and such a way. Besides, we are born absolutely virgin of all cultural knowledge. We integrate the culture in which we bathe, whatever the geographical location and whatever the period. Our eyes are cameras, our ears microphones, our skin a tactile surface, and our nervous system an automatic signal integrator. This culture pervades us because we are forced to do so. We have nothing to do with it.

    We are such that we are because society has made us such as we are, intelligent or stupid, fragile and deadly, victims or criminals. If you want to file a complaint, it is against society, but not against individuals. If a criminal is on your way with social weapons, it is because society has put him there and you are a potential victim fabricated fragile by society. Individuals were constructed, formatted, and knighted by society.

    The Society has thousands of years of existence, it is a legal person, and as such, it can be attacked in Justice for the purpose of reforming it.


  18. I read Mr. Hinson’s book “The Sun Dies Shine,” and I was so inspired by Mr. Stevenson I had to read his boon “Just Mercy.” Your grandmother was right, you are special. God bless you and thank you for your dedication.

  19. "We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes."

  20. This presentation is super powerful, I'm brought to tears. I don't know you but I feel extremely proud of you, your work and what you stand for.

  21. This man in Kansas has been found guilty of a crime that had no evidence. Take a look at this. https://www.freealbertwilson.com/ let me know if you have any questions

  22. His bashful smile and quiet "thank you"s as he receives a standing ovation at the end are very heart-warming.

  23. I'm 38 yrs old and was in the system since '97. I've now been off probation and parole for three yrs now. Praise God!!!! I beat the odds. But I can't vote or carry a firearm. I guess their plan still worked. They won the battle but I won the war! #Jesuslivessatandies#theend

  24. We need serious criminal justice reform, great talk, and some excellent points,

    However, appealing to identity is a slippery slope as one could debate what the proper level of demographic analysis is. The claim that ethnicity is the primary level of analysis from which to examine inequality ignores the coexisting factors which may be a more highly correlated explanation. The divide between white and black sentencing is much smaller then gender, (for example Black women are much less disproportionately punished for the same crime than white men) so whos to say the issue is not in fact gender.

    Of course it could be both, but this is the slippery slope. The question should be asked if we want to participate in a conversation that leads to criminal reform, or we want to race bait to generate income. Of course, to the people being unfairly sentenced, academic debates which do nothing but divide people along immutable qualities will do nothing but make the problems worst.

    The old left believed the titanic could be saved from sinking the poor, The new left wants to get the poor to fight over the best deck chairs. Exactly the aim the old right always had. Dividing the poor so they don't fight the rich. Makes you wonder how leftist the new authoritarian bigoteering regressive left really is

  25. Eating a peanut butter and onion sandwich to calm the mind whilst watching this.

  26. I can't believe the gushing praise in the comments. Sorry his smooth eloquent voice didn't beguile me. Research has show that there is no disparity in prosecution, if anything blacks get leniency. So why the disparity in felonies? Perhaps as other wiser speakers has said it's the father-less upbringing or the culture instilled in urban poor. Also he talked of disenfranchisement. Sorry felons can petition to have their records expunged and thousands do in every state, so he is wrong to say they are permanently disenfranchised. His example of death sentences to exoneration of guilt is flawed in so many ways. Very few of death-row inmate are ever executed. so he is comparing those few with the thousands on death-row. But then his math is terrible. 9 executed to every 1 exonerated. He says this is 1 in 9. Sorry you should have said 1 in 10. I'm sure he cites this example all the time, has nobody ever mentioned his poor math or how many sit on death-row?

  27. WE are living in a world where a large portion of the population supports the innocent murdering of humans by the millions every year and this guy is asking whether the government deserves to kill criminals? ok now.

  28. So you are blaming the high level of criminality in the black areas on…white people? Not quite sure how you are coming up with that. how does that work?

  29. Provided no evidence of racial injustice, just because the African American population is incarcerated more doesn't mean racism is to blame. This TEDTalk is BS

  30. 'We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent'
    – It doesn't take a genius to figure out that ALL OF HUMANKIND has done this and on EVERY continent not just in white majority countries. But then again blame the white people, I mean that's what everyone does.

  31. I love his talks on Justice and what he is doing to implement change.I hope someone like Bryan would do the same in England 🇬🇧
    Thanks for being an inspiration

  32. Just found out there’s a movie comin September 2019 about him. Michael B Jordan is playing him and Jamie Fox is playing a Walter McMillan







    Chinas BRICS+X-BANK, Venezuelas Linke schlägt zurück!

    Mord vom 11-9 an Salvador Allende, auch Noskes Morde

    an Karl Liebknecht und Ernst Thälmann, auch Stalins Rote

    Mörderhorde in der Ukraine, in Spanien, in China – es reicht!

    Morde an Staatsanwalt Robert Kennedy und Fritz Bauer,

    der Mord an Patrice Lumumba, Olof Palme, Rudi Dutschke,

    Sitting Bull, Malcom-X, Martin Luther King werden von neuen

    Anarchisten zur Rechenschaft gezogen, falls Neue-Rechte

    Imperialisten, IWF-Jünger der SPD/CDU einmarschieren!






    Auch der Deutsche Botschafter, seine Freunde der

    Gleichen erhalten lebenslanges Botschaftsverbot!











    5. NATO-Reden von deutschen Bundespresse-Agenten

    haben weltweit bei Anarchisten keine Bedeutung !!!

    6. Es zählt nun das "Agenten-Gesetzt" von Präsident

    XI JINPING auch für Ur-Linke Anarchisten der EU!

    "Viel Schlimmer, als Überbezahlten SPD-CDU-Reden,

    sind Hintermänner der Pleitegeier von IWF-Jüngern"

    und die staatlichen Vereine der Neuen Rechten zum

    Terror der religiösen Faschisten (3 Monotheisten)!

  34. Someday blacks will care about more than other blacks. All they talk about is black something and all they surround themselves with is black something. We can see the real racists here in America. For a species to hate another so much they want nothing to do with them is pure hatred. Sick

  35. If all those low-level prisoners were out and working and paying taxes, I wouldn't have to pay so much. This is needed, simply because THE NATION IS DEEP IN DEBT!

  36. If we judge a society by how we treat the poor and the incarcerated,
    the USA in its apathy and callousness is in an embarrassingly sad state.

  37. " That's going to make you tired tired tired… That's why you've got to be brave, brave, brave..", Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your truth and for being brave Bryan Stevenson!

  38. This man is a hero. He took out Antony Ray Hinton from the death row after years fighting the rotten system. I'm proud to be from the first country in the world to end the death penalty (Portugal).

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