Just Mercy: Impact of Justice System on Vulnerable Populations

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Treatment of Juveniles with Mental Illnesses in Just Mercy
  • Having Mercy and Justice on the Prejudiced Minorities
  • Conclusion


In chapter six of Just Mercy, a boy by the name of Charlie, who was only 14 years old was put into prison for murdering a police officer named George. However, he was not placed into a juvenile detention center, he was placed into a prison for adults. In this prison, he was raped by more than one man. Another example of a juvenile being incarcerated is shown in chapter 8 of the novel. Trina Garnet was incarcerated at the age of 14 for incidentally causing two boys to perish in a fire. While in prison, she was raped by an officer and became pregnant.

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After reading the book, I believe that children who commit major crimes such as murder should be incarcerated. However, not in an adult prison. I believe they should go to a juvenile detention center where they can be with kids their own age. Since they are only kids, they should not be given a life sentence in prison. However, children who commit a misdemeanor such as petty theft should not be incarcerated but instead, given a warning. If they continue to steal or commit that misdemeanor act, they should be incarcerated for a small period of time such as a week or a month, but no longer.

In chapter 10 of Just Mercy, a man named George Daniel had a head trauma due to an awful car accident and became confused when he was kicked out of a bus. He ended up shooting a police officer and received a death sentence when he was diagnosed as capable of standing trial by a false doctor. Since he was falsely diagnosed as mentally stable to stand in the trial, he lost and got a death sentence. They should have known he was mentally unstable, so they could find other ways to testify about the situation.

Treatment of Juveniles with Mental Illnesses in Just Mercy

I believe that those with mental illnesses should be treated differently by the justice system. They should be given a good lawyer to defend them well. Also, they should have people there to explain the events that are taking place in simpler terms in order to help them understand and be more clear with what is going on. The person on trial should not be treated harshly because they have a mental illness, they should be treated fairly.

Having Mercy and Justice on the Prejudiced Minorities

In the beginning of the book, we are introduced to a black man named Walter McMillian. Since he was seen in an interracial relationship with a white woman, he was falsely accused for the murder of a young white woman who was in a laundry store. Sheriff Tate went against Walter and found false evidence to conclude that he was the murderer of Ronda Morrison. Since Walter was a man of color, he didn’t have many people on his side. Many people such as Sheriff Tate, Ralph Myers, and Bill Hooks were against him and didn't care if he was innocent. They just wanted him to take the blame for this woman’s murder because he was black.

I believe after reading the book, that race does impact the way a person is treated by the justice system. Although, it definitely should not affect it, the reality is, it does. There are many people, even to this day, who are racist against all different races. They can be working in the justice system, in a hospital, or even in schools. Over the years, there have been many different stereotypes made against certain races. There are people in the justice system who go by these stereotypes and views and make decisions based off of them. In the case of Walter, he was an innocent man. However, he was falsely accused of murder as a direct result of his race, which is completely unjust and immoral.

In chapter 12 of Just Mercy we are introduced to Marsha Colbey. She is a white woman from Alabama who is in poverty. Marsha became pregnant and delivered her baby in a bathtub. Her baby, whom she named Timothy, had died while she was giving birth. She decided to bury her baby in her backyard. Her neighbor was suspicious of the missing baby. The police arrested Marsha and falsely accused her of murdering her own baby and she was given life in prison. She got falsely accused of murdering her own child because of her economic status. Her level of poverty made it seem as though she was unfit to take care of a child.


Even today, social class has an impact on the way a person is treated by the justice system. It is not fair that this happens, however it does happen. Many people view people in poverty in a negative way. They see people in poverty as people who are not capable to take care of themselves or others. It is a well known stereotype that people in poverty are drug addicts or thieves. Although, some maybe, others are just regular human beings who are just trying to make it through life and feed their families. There are some people who are in the justice system who may believe this stereotype and act on it.              

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