If you are on the fence about the necessity of the death penalty I suggest you read The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. If you believe in the need for a death sentence, I also suggest you read it with open eyes and ears. Actually, everyone should read Hinton’s memoir, because it is in my opinion a necessary read on how broken the US justice system really is. And more: it is the story of how an innocent man spent nearly 30 years on Death Row in Alabama, and continued to fight for freedom when most people would have given up. Hinton is a true hero, a man who lived through hell year after year after year, and still manages to see so much positive in everything.
Anthony Ray Hinton, Ray, was arrested and convicted of a crime he could not have committed, by a prejudiced judge, jury, and court-appointed attorney. The details of the case are abhorrent: no jury should EVER have deemed this man guilty of the crimes the police said he had committed. On top of this, his appeals were continuously thrown out, the state of Alabama obviously not interested in admitting that they had sentenced an innocent man to death. It wasn’t until Bryan Stevenson started to work with Ray that things started to look up, but even then it took many more years for Ray’s conviction to be thrown out the court and for him to be released.
The Sun Does Shine is a memoir of 30 lost years, of absolute darkness, but it is also ultimately a story of hope, of love, of friendship and of forgiveness. Hinton’s innate need to care for others is absolutely uplifting, and his ability to navigate through darkness to see the light in everything is remarkable. I don’t believe that we have the right to sentence anyone to death, no matter the crime, and The Sun Does Shine has me all the more convinced that we need to fight so much harder to get it removed.
As Ray mentions at the end of the book, we should assume that every 10th person currently on death row is innocent. Should we be able to live with that?
The Sun Does Shine will be published by St. Martin’s Press on Marc 27th. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!