anthony ray hinton case

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested for the murder of two fast food restaurant workers in Birmingham, Alabama. For these crimes, he was sentenced to death, and spent 28 years on death row, awaiting the electric chair. There was a problem, however.

Mr. Hinton was innocent.

“The state of Alabama had every intention of killing me for a crime I didn’t commit,” said Hinton. “They didn’t care whether I did it. They cared about the color of my skin. As the prosecutor said: ‘Even if we didn’t get the right one, at least we got one off the street.’” By the time the Supreme Court overturned his conviction based in part on the fact that his attorney was “constitutionally deficient” and had hired a visually impaired, inexperienced ballistics “expert,” an innocent man had been robbed of his freedom in the prime of his life.

We are left with questions, all of them weighty.

How does an innocent person survive the horror of unjust incarceration, with the shadow of death constantly hanging overhead—and somehow come through it all with the lesson that “the sun does shine?

” What lessons can we learn?

How do we come to terms with all that Ray Hinton has lost—and that our civil society bears responsibility for taking it from him? And just as important, we are left with the question: how many other innocent men and women are in prison?

And given that more than 150 people in the United States have been exonerated from death row since 1973, how many innocent people are awaiting their execution?

Finally, how do we stop this from happening again?

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