On June 27, Professor of Clinical Law Bryan Stevenson received the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction for his October 2014 book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. The American Library Association (ALA) made the announcement at its annual conference in San Francisco.

Bryan StevensonEstablished in 2012, the Carnegie Medal honors adult titles in fiction and nonfiction with an award seal and a $5,000 cash prize. A seven-member committee of library professionals selects the winners from nominations by Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association.

Just MercyThe Carnegie Medal joins a host of awards for Stevenson’s account of his experiences representing death-row inmates. Among its many accolades, Just Mercy has also received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Nonfiction, and has been listed in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014, Esquire’s 5 Most Important Books of 2014, and Time’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2014. It has also been a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize and the Kirkus Prize.

In an interview for the ALA, Stevenson acknowledged an initial hesitation about taking time away from his legal work to write Just Mercy, though he ultimately welcomed what became a “cathartic” writing process.

“I’m hoping that people will learn more about some of these challenges that we’re facing in our country, about the plight of people who’ve been thrown away and discarded and condemned,” Stevenson said. “I’m also hoping that they’ll dig a little deeper into understanding what fear and anger have done to our criminal justice system.”

Posted June 29, 2015