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Augie Reads 2022 summer essay

Welcome to Augustana College! This summer you will read an important work of nonfiction — "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption" by Bryan Stevenson — and write a short essay about it.

You’ll bring a copy of your finished essay to the first day of your First-Year Inquiry/First-Year Honors 101 class. We look forward to discussing the book with you when you join our intellectual community as a first-year student.

Bryan Stevenson’s "Just Mercy" is rooted in the author’s experiences as a defense attorney. In a gripping narrative, it tells the story of clients like Walter McMilian, a man who was sentenced to the death penalty for a murder he did not commit. 

The faculty chose this book for its deeply humanizing and intellectually rigorous examination of the American criminal justice system and that system’s impact on some of the most vulnerable members of society.  

In your two- to three-page Augie Reads essay, analyze the theme of justice through a discussion of two individuals profiled in the book: Walter McMillian, and one other client of your choosing that Stevenson profiles. Compare and contrast the experiences of these two individuals with the criminal justice system and explain what their stories communicate about justice or injustice.

Areas you might consider in your comparison include, but are not limited to, the individuals’ social background, the reasons for their convictions, and the results of Stevenson’s work with them. If you think that other aspects of their cases deserve consideration, feel free to discuss them as well.

Include the page number(s) anytime you cite the text, whether quoting or paraphrasing.

Note that your instructor does not expect you to have completely mastered the book. Your instructor does expect that you give the essay your best effort because it will serve as a jumping-off point for your first year at Augustana College.

Please have your essay completed before starting your First-Year Inquiry/First-Year Honors 101 course. The essay is due on the first day you meet with that class, either Sept. 6 or Sept. 7, 2022.