Opening General Session with Keynote Speaker Bryan Stevenson

American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference

Date/Time: Sunday, July 16, 2017: 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
Speaker: Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative

America has the largest prison population in the world—and the criminal justice system that puts the men, women, and children in these prisons is broken. Excessive punishment and abuse are widespread, and the collateral consequences are devastating lives and communities. Stevenson will talk about defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people, recounting stories of heartbreak and inspiration.

As the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges in eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. EJI recently won a historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards.

He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, and has been awarded 26 honorary doctorate degrees. He is the author of award-winning and New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy. In praise of his book, famed author John Grisham writes, “Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”

In 2015, Stevenson was named to the TIME 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people. More recently, he was named in Fortune‘s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders list.

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