One of the longest-serving death row prisoners in Alabama history and among the longest-serving condemned prisoners to be freed after presenting evidence of innocence, Anthony Ray Hinton is the 152nd person exonerated from death row since 1983. He was released in April 2015 after spending 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit. He was released with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), led by 2019 Speakers Series lecturer Bryan Stevenson.
Today, Hinton works tirelessly as Community Educator for the EJI and travels both nationally and internationally to speak about his experience. He has become a powerful voice against the death penalty and speaks nationally about the urgent need for criminal justice reform. He has spoken at dozens of universities and conferences and is an incredibly compelling speaker and advocate.
In 1985, Hinton was arrested and charged with two capital murders based solely on the assertion that a dusty revolver taken from his mother’s home was the gun used in both murders and in a third uncharged crime. EJI attorneys engaged three of the nation’s top firearms examiners, who testified in 2002 that the revolver could not be matched to crime evidence. State prosecutors never questioned the new findings but nonetheless refused to re-examine the case or concede error.
After 12 more years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the lower courts, and a new trial was granted. The judge finally dismissed the charges after prosecutors said that scientists at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences tested the evidence and confirmed that the crime bullets cannot be matched to the Hinton weapon. Hinton was released.
Hinton’s inspirational memoir, The Sun Does Shine, How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row was released in 2018 and featured in Oprah Winfrey’s book club in 2019.