The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and its Executive Director for 26 years, Bryan Stevenson is a devoted advocate opposed to the establishment of the death penalty, an advocate for unlawful imprisoned children, and an ideal American citizen at the forefront of discussing racism as reflected in the Judicial System.
As an extensively established public interest lawyer, Stevenson has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his supervision, EJI has won major legal challenges 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. He has successfully argued several cases in the United States Supreme Court, and recently won a historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. Furthermore, Stevenson and his staff have won reversals that led to the release of over 115 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row.
Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him countless awards including the American Bar Association’s Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, the Olaf Palme Prize in Stockholm, Sweden for international human rights, and the National Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union among others.
A 1985 graduate of Harvard University, with both a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a Doctor of Laws from Harvard Law School, Stevenson has received 14 honorary degrees including degrees from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, and Washington University.