STARRED REVIEW
April 2018

Defining life on death row

By Anthony Ray Hinton

In 1985, Jefferson County, Alabama, suffered a string of armed robberies. The robber would attack restaurant managers, take their cash, force them into the cooler and then shoot them in cold blood. Two managers died; the third survived and gave a description of the attacker to the police. Based on this identification, the sheriff’s department arrested Anthony Ray Hinton, an African-American man out on parole for auto theft.

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BookPage Top Pick in Nonfiction, April 2018

In 1985, Jefferson County, Alabama, suffered a string of armed robberies. The robber would attack restaurant managers, take their cash, force them into the cooler and then shoot them in cold blood. Two managers died; the third survived and gave a description of the attacker to the police. Based on this identification, the sheriff’s department arrested Anthony Ray Hinton, an African-American man out on parole for auto theft.

But Hinton had an ironclad alibi: At the time of the third robbery, he was at work 15 miles away, with a security guard who noted Hinton’s whereabouts throughout his shift. Furthermore, Hinton took and passed a polygraph test. He was innocent. Yet the district attorney pursued Hinton’s conviction with the grim determination of the furies, aided in his dogged efforts by an incompetent defense attorney, a racist jury and a judge who ruled in the State’s favor at every turn. Hinton was eventually tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the two murders. He spent 30 years on death row before being released in 2015. Hinton tells his story in his harrowing, powerful memoir, The Sun Does Shine.

This book is filled with questions that infuriate. Why did the DA ignore the evidence of Hinton’s innocence? Why would the State ignore prosecutorial misconduct and refuse to consider new exonerating evidence? Why spend so much time, effort and money to execute a man for a murder he demonstrably did not commit?

Yet The Sun Does Shine is also filled with grace. Through his faith in God, the love of his friends and mother, his commitment to the other inmates on death row and the unstinting support of his appellate attorney (Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative), Hinton maintained his soul in a soulless world. His experience gives him a peerless moral authority on the death penalty, and he raises powerful questions about the practice. Hinton’s voice demands to be heard.

 

This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Sun Does Shine

The Sun Does Shine

By Anthony Ray Hinton
St. Martin's
ISBN 9781250124715

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