Anthony Ray Hinton: 28 Years on Death Row:
What He Teaches Us All
By Shlomo Maital
The BBC World Service reports: “A man released from prison after nearly 30 years on death row in Alabama has blamed his conviction on being black and poor. Prosecutors dropped the case against Anthony Ray Hinton, 58, when new ballistics tests contradicted the only evidence that linked him to the murders of two restaurant managers in 1985.”
The man is Anthony Ray Hinton. And he has every reason to be bitter, angry and disconsolate. Society took away his life, unjustly.
So, how does he really feel? And how did he retain his sanity, while on Death Row for 28 years, beginning with when he was only 29 years old? (He is twice that age today). The BBC reports: “Asked if he felt angry about the people who imprisoned him he said: “I am a joyful person. I have a good sense of humor and that’s what kept me for the 30 years I was locked up. I couldn’t let them steal what I had left which was joy. They had robbed me of my 30s, my 40s and my 50s so if I get mad and hate them I’m letting them steal my joy.” He said he was taking life “one step at a time” and wanted to “just try to live within my own means, try to bring joy to someone else, live a fruitful life and just be happy”.
I believe that if Anthony Hinton can still seek to “bring joy to someone else”, after nearly 3 decades on Death Row, surely all of us can do the same!
And by the way – we learn one more thing from Hinton’s release, according to his lawyer: “Mr Hinton is the 152nd person to be exonerated after being sentenced to death. It’s a shocking rate of error. No system would tolerate that rate of error that cared about the people that were at risk but because most of the people on death row are poor or people of color we seem to not care as much that some of them are innocent.”