Monday, June 11, 2018

Innocent Man Spends Three Decades on Alabama's Death Row

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row (Oprah's Book Club Summer 2018 Selection)

Author: Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: March 27, 2018

Length: 273 Pages

About the Author
Anthony Ray Hinton spent nearly thirty years on death row for crimes he didn't commit. Released in April 2015, Hinton now speaks widely on prison reform and the power of faith and forgiveness.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and the murders of two fast food workers in Alabama. He knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and an unfair system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution.

This is a memoir of Mr. Hinton's experiences on death row and how he was eventually exonerated by the United States Supreme Court. The state of Alabama dropped all charges against him.

My Thoughts
This is the story of blatant and intentional racism and discrimination. Anthony Ray Hinton was charged with murder because of the color of his skin and his inability to hire a competent defense attorney.
"You know, I don't care whether you did or didn't do it. In fact, I believe that you didn't do it. But it doesn't matter. If you didn't do it, one of your brothers did. And you're going to take the rap." Lieutenant Acker of Birmingham Police Department
Mr. Hinton was found guilty of murder by a jury and given a life sentence in prison. A judge overruled the jury and changed the sentence to death by electrocution.

The author spent his first three years on death row in silence. He was a Christian man and could not understand how God could allow something like this to happen. His heart was full of anger and revenge toward the people who had sent an innocent man to death row.

The beautiful thing about this story is how the author eventually became a shining light of hope for the other prisoners on death row. Mr. Hinton started reaching out to other prisoners. He got permission to start a book club and prisoners were allowed to read and discuss books. He tried to keep a positive attitude despite many discouraging years of fighting for freedom in the legal system. 
"I forgive because not to forgive would only hurt me." Anthony Ray Hinton
The author credits his faith in God, his mother's unconditional love, the loyalty of his best friend and an excellent attorney from the Equal Justice Initiative for his eventual exoneration and release from death row.

Anthony Ray Hinton was the 152nd person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973 and the sixth in the state of Alabama. He is now a poster boy for all that is broken in our criminal justice system. 

Our pledge of allegiance..."one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." That should be our vision for the future. 


FYI ~ I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

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