My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: March 27th, 2018
Publisher: St-Martin’s Press
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Nonfiction, Memoir, True Crime
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton 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 a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence—full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.
Can you imagine?
Can you imagine being convicted of multiple murders you never committed and sentenced to death by electrocution?
Can you imagine spending thirty years of your life in a tiny room next to the Death Room where they electrocute men and women, always wondering when the guards will show up in front of your cell to let you know the date of your own execution?
Hoping, praying that the truth will come out, that you will have a chance to prove your innocence, but being told again and again that no one wants to even hear what you have to say, no one wants to believe you? No one wants to even consider you might be innocent. After all, due to your skin colour, it doesn’t matter if you’ve done the deed or not, you were guilty the moment you were born.
Can you imagine such hate, such prejudice?
Anthony Ray Hinton’s story is unlike any I have ever read, and if you find my words unoriginal – after all, we’ve all said that a hundred times before about the books we’ve read – then so be it. Actually, I hope it becomes like many stories I have read, because I want to know more about mass incarceration, death penalty, and prejudice against minorities.
I want to know more about Love, Hope and Truth. I want to learn to forgive, like Anthony Ray Hinton has, and to get rid of my sometimes inflamed ego. I don’t want to lose my confidence – no one ever should – but I want to be capable of admitting I am wrong without feeling like I am losing a battle.
Before I read this book, I didn’t have an opinion on the death penalty, but now I do. I am lucky enough to be living in a country where the death penalty was abolished decades ago, but I didn’t realize how grateful I should be about that before today.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ray. I hope that one day love will win, too.
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