Just Mercy

Just Mercy

The first execution that Stevenson witnesses is that of Herbert Richardson. Herbert is war veteran with a history of trauma and psychological health problems. He was charged with capital murder and sentenced to death after he unintentionally killed the niece of his ex-girlfriend in a delusional effort to win his ex-girlfriend back. During his years in prison, he seeks redemption. He becomes engaged to a new woman with whom he has taken up correspondence, and he becomes close to her family. He becomes Stevenson’s client shortly before his scheduled execution. EJI is unable to seek relief for Herbert.

Herbert Richardson Quotes in Just Mercy

The Just Mercy quotes below are all either spoken by Herbert Richardson or refer to Herbert Richardson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Spiegel & Grau edition of Just Mercy published in 2015.
Chapter 4 Quotes

It was sad like few other hymns I’d heard. I don’t know why exactly, but I started to hum it as I saw more uniformed officers entering the vestibule outside the visitation room. It seemed like something that might help […] After a few minutes, the family joined me. I went over to Herbert’s wife as she held him tightly, sobbing softly. I whispered to her, “We have to let him go.” Herbert saw the officers lining up outside, and he pulled away from her slowly and told me to take her out of the room.

Related Characters: Bryan Stevenson (speaker), Herbert Richardson, Herbert’s wife
Related Symbols: Songs/ Hymns
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
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The next day there were articles in the press about the execution. Some state officials expressed happiness and excitement that an execution had taken place, but I knew that none of them had actually dealt with the details of killing Herbert.

Related Characters: Bryan Stevenson (speaker), Herbert Richardson
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
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Herbert Richardson Character Timeline in Just Mercy

The timeline below shows where the character Herbert Richardson appears in Just Mercy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: The Old Rugged Cross
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
...limited budgets and difficult work conditions. One day, a death row inmate and Vietnam veteran, Herbert Richardson, calls EJI pleading for help. His execution date is 30 days away. Stevenson tries... (full context)
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
Media and Public Opinion Theme Icon
Stevenson explains that Herbert’s traumas of childhood abuse and his mother’s death were exacerbated by wartime violence. While in... (full context)
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
Stevenson files several stay motions at the state level on behalf of Herbert, though he has little hope. In the late 1980’s, the Supreme Court began turning death... (full context)
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
Stevenson explains that over the years Herbert had corresponded with a woman and they fell in love. They marry a week before... (full context)
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
At the prison, Stevenson finds Herbert joking around and trying to stay positive in the presence of his wife and family.... (full context)
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
Stevenson realizes he isn’t prepared to see Herbert die. Herbert is given a moment with Stevenson. The two men pray together. Herbert tells... (full context)
Chapter 5: Of the Coming of John
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
Shortly after Herbert’s execution, Stevenson visits death row to catch up with several new clients, including Walter. Afterward,... (full context)