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Tom Kecskemethy, Executive Director
The American Academy of Political and Social Science
(215) 746-7321

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (May 21, 2024) — The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS) will award the 2024 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize to acclaimed public interest attorney and scholar Bryan Stevenson, whose career has been dedicated to illuminating the legacy of inequity and racism in America and to seeking justice for the poor, incarcerated, and condemned.

The Moynihan Prize is awarded annually to a leading policymaker, social scientist, or public intellectual whose career demonstrates the value of using research and evidence to improve the human condition. Named in honor of the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the Prize carries forward his legacy of public service informed by intellectual engagement and scholarship.

“Bryan’s relentless pursuit of justice for poor and marginalized communities both reveals and helps repair the endemic racial bias in our criminal justice system. His fierce advocacy for the wrongly convicted is grounded in unvarnished evidence and inspired by the hope that our shared humanity will bend history toward equal justice,” said AAPSS President Marta Tienda. “The Academy is honored to recognize his work with the Moynihan Prize.”

Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a renowned nonprofit that provides legal representation to people who have been denied a fair trial, wrongly convicted, or unfairly sentenced. Since its founding in 1989, the EJI has won major legal challenges that have helped to eliminate excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerate innocent death row prisoners, confront abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aid children who have been prosecuted as adults. Stevenson himself argued several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn mandatory life-without-parole sentences for minors and to secure 8th Amendment protections against “cruel and unusual punishment” for aging and mentally ill prisoners. These and other cases are chronicled in Stevenson’s 2014 memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Beyond policy reform, the EJI also works to remedy the struggles of communities of Americans that have been marginalized by poverty and racial injustice. The EJI provides reentry assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals, publishes studies and presents research-backed recommendations to advocates, and creates educational content for a wide variety of audiences. Under Stevenson’s leadership, the EJI also erected “Legacy Sites”—the Legacy Museum, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Freedom Monument Sculpture Park—in Montgomery, Alabama. These spaces explore and address the U.S.’s history of enslavement, lynching, and segregation, ultimately connecting this legacy to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias.

“I am grateful to be recognized among those who use facts and scholarship to combat injustice and improve public policy,” said Stevenson, who will accept the Prize and deliver the Moynihan Lecture on Social Science and Public Policy on November 18, 2024, in Washington, DC.

Previous recipients of the Moynihan Prize include economist and columnist Alan S. Blinder, sociologist and professor William Julius Wilson, ambassador Samantha Power, and children’s rights advocate Marian Wright Edelman. A full list of previous winners can be found on the AAPSS website.

About the American Academy of Political and Social Science

The American Academy of Political and Social Science promotes the use of social science in the public domain and in policymaking. Its flagship journal, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, brings together public officials and scholars from across social science disciplines to address issues such as the transition to adulthood in developing countries, the current and future impact of the Great Recession, enhanced government regulation, and the influence of the criminal justice system on American civic life. Learn more at

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