The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

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, Hint...

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Title:The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row
Author:Anthony Ray Hinton
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Edition Language:English

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row Reviews

  • Bkwmlee

    As I write this review, I am wiping tears from my face -- tears that flowed more than once as I was reading this amazing book. It is hard to describe the gamut of emotions I felt as I followed Anthony Ray Hinton’s incredible story of having to spend 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Disgusted, appalled, angry, outraged – none of these words seem to be sufficient in relaying my feelings towards the blatant miscarriage of justice that was described in this book as well as towards

    As I write this review, I am wiping tears from my face -- tears that flowed more than once as I was reading this amazing book. It is hard to describe the gamut of emotions I felt as I followed Anthony Ray Hinton’s incredible story of having to spend 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Disgusted, appalled, angry, outraged – none of these words seem to be sufficient in relaying my feelings towards the blatant miscarriage of justice that was described in this book as well as towards a broken criminal justice system that goes out of its way to protect corrupt, prejudiced officials who have no qualms about convicting and putting innocent people to death not based on hard evidence, but rather based on the color of their skin. Facing a system that treats “the rich and guilty better than the poor and innocent,” Hinton fought for decades to prove his innocence, encountering one setback after another, until finally, with the help of his attorney Bryan Stevenson, they were able to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the original conviction and grant him a new trial, after which the local district attorney in Alabama decided to drop the charges. Throughout his harrowing ordeal, Hinton was sustained by his faith in God, which helped him maintain hope, but most importantly, he was blessed with the unconditional love of his mother -- a remarkable woman who was the center of his universe and also his most steadfast cheerleader – as well as the unwavering support of his best friend Lester Bailey, who, for 30 years, never missed a single visit, driving 7 hours every Friday down to the prison to sit with Hinton and make sure he had everything he needed and also helping to take care of his beloved mother. Channeling the love he received from his family and friends, his own unique sense of humor, and also everything his mother taught him about life, Hinton was able to develop true friendships with his fellow inmates and even with some of the guards at the prison.

    Hinton’s ability to forgive those who wronged him and, despite the circumstances, try to better the lives of his fellow inmates through humor and genuine compassion were nothing short of extraordinary. Most people in his situation would not have found the will to survive, but Hinton was different – his strong resolve and unbreakable spirit were essential in helping him survive the misery of his situation. Also, it must be said that I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for Hinton’s attorney Bryan Stevenson – an extraordinary man who has dedicated his entire life to fighting for justice and equality for those who are poor, underprivileged, marginalized. In Hinton’s case, Stevenson fought the courts tirelessly for 16 years, never giving up even when one court after another refused to admit the evidence that would exonerate Hinton, never backing down even in the face of blatant bias from the judges and prosecutors. Even now, as Stevenson continues to battle with the State of Alabama to get compensation for Hinton, it continues to be a struggle, this time with semantics, as the same inherently prejudiced bureaucratic system maintains that Hinton should not get compensated because the charges being “dropped” is not the same as an official declaration of innocence.

    This is one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve read in a long time. Hinton’s story is unforgettable, inspirational, and is one that I know will stay with me for a long time to come. Since his release, Hinton has become a motivational speaker and works with Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative traveling around the world, going wherever he is invited to share his story, bringing awareness and also pushing for changes in this country’s justice system in the hopes that this doesn’t happen again to anyone. One of the saddest moments in the book was when Hinton’s mother passed away from cancer in 2002 – this was a woman who had been his rock throughout his ordeal, the love of his life, someone who meant more to him than life itself, the one person who, from the moment her son was arrested, never wavered in her belief that her most beloved baby boy would return home. A bittersweet reunion in the end, as Hinton walked out of the jailhouse finally a free man, grateful that Lester and his family were there to greet him, but also knowing that the mother he adored did not live to see that moment. Despite what Hinton went through and knowing the deeply ingrained societal struggles with racial bias in that state, Hinton still chooses to live in Alabama, in the same house that his mother worked hard her entire life in order to buy so that he would have a home to go back to. Hinton’s special bond with his remarkable mother was one part of his story that moved me deeply.

    Remarkable, inspiring, eye-opening, and ultimately uplifting, this is a memoir that EVERYONE needs to read, and urgently, given what is happening in our country currently. Bryan Stevenson puts it best in the Forward to this book where he writes:

    Received ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister

    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

    Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of murder and spent 30 years on Death Row in Alabama. His cell was close enough to the execution block that all his senses knew when someone’s time had come.

    Hinton’s public defender was incompetent and so was the star witness in ballistics who happened to be blind in one eye and asked for help in doing his job. Add to that a district attorney with an axe to grind, an all white jury and judg

    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

    Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of murder and spent 30 years on Death Row in Alabama. His cell was close enough to the execution block that all his senses knew when someone’s time had come.

    Hinton’s public defender was incompetent and so was the star witness in ballistics who happened to be blind in one eye and asked for help in doing his job. Add to that a district attorney with an axe to grind, an all white jury and judge, and racial tensions in Alabama, and Hinton was convicted of a crime he did not commit.

    While each day and year ticked by, Hinton never lost hope, and he was able to convince well-known attorney, Bryan Stevenson, to represent him. After jumping through all the hoops of our justice system, and several years later in doing so, the Supreme Court overturned the false conviction.

    At the very heart of this book is Hinton’s merciful, steadfast spirit. In prison, he was known for his kindness and ability to make others laugh. Outside of prison, he spends his time advocating so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    If you need to feel uplifted, Hinton indomitably delivers.

    Thank you to Anthony Ray Hinton, St. Martin’s Press, and Netgalley for the ARC for this inspiring book. The Sun Does Shine is available now!

  • Nancy

    Last year I read Bryan Stevenson's book Just Mercy. It was crushing to read about a justice system based on convictions and political gain at the expense of innocent men. It led me to read I Can't Breathe by Matt Taibbi about the death of Earl Garner and also to Michelle Ko's Reading with Patrick. Each book is a moving account of the stories behind the Black Lives Matter movement.

    So when I saw that one of the Death Row inmates represented by Stevenson had written his own book I had to read it.

    R

    Last year I read Bryan Stevenson's book Just Mercy. It was crushing to read about a justice system based on convictions and political gain at the expense of innocent men. It led me to read I Can't Breathe by Matt Taibbi about the death of Earl Garner and also to Michelle Ko's Reading with Patrick. Each book is a moving account of the stories behind the Black Lives Matter movement.

    So when I saw that one of the Death Row inmates represented by Stevenson had written his own book I had to read it.

    Ray Hinton had a record and had paid his dues. He was working in a guarded facility when a murder took place, but an enemy in romance told police that he had seen Ray at the crime scene.

    Ray was poor. Ray was black. Ray had a record. With lousy representation, a partially blind expert witness in munitions, and the system stacked against him, he was convicted and sent to prison for murders he did not commit.

    The Sun Does Shine tells of his struggle for justice, his decline into anger and hatred, and how he found hope and acceptance. He became a model prisoner, befriending the other inmates and working to improve their lives. He asked for their food to be covered to keep out dust and insects. He asked for books to keep the inmates from dwelling on their problems. He started a book club. He kept up morale.

    Ray changed lives. A former KKK member who killed a black teenager called Ray his best friend.

    It was the continuing love of his mother and support of his best friend that kept Ray going for thirty years. Even after his mother passed, he heard her inspiring voice to keep fighting. Ray knew he had what many others on Death Row had lacked: a loving family and abiding faith.

    Bryan Stevenson was overworked but took on Ray's case. They had to fight the Alabama court system that would not accept the evidence that would prove Ray's innocence.

    When Ray was finally released he had lived on Death Row longer than he had been free. It was a shock; the world had changed. The first night of freedom he slept in the bathroom because the bedroom was too large and strange. He was given no compensation. He had no Social Security or pension or savings built up. He would have to work to support himself the rest of his life.

    I was devastated and I was inspired by Ray's story.

    Meet Mr. Hinton in a video at

    I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Karen

    An incredible story! My heart hurt for Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man with extraordinary patience who sat on death row in a 5x7 ft cell for 30 years. This man missed half his life due to an unconscionable travesty of justice in Alabama’s court system before finally being exonerated and set free in 2015 at 58 years old after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t know if I will ever be able to forget Ray’s story. Surely, the Alabama Senate will find it in their hearts to compensate this

    An incredible story! My heart hurt for Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man with extraordinary patience who sat on death row in a 5x7 ft cell for 30 years. This man missed half his life due to an unconscionable travesty of justice in Alabama’s court system before finally being exonerated and set free in 2015 at 58 years old after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t know if I will ever be able to forget Ray’s story. Surely, the Alabama Senate will find it in their hearts to compensate this man as a small token to right this egregious wrong?

    The fix was in from the start for Ray, a hard-working young black man living in racially charged Alabama. It infuriates me that people today use the ‘racist’ card when a behavior doesn’t suit them and have no idea what true racism is. Anthony Ray Hinton can educate them on that.

    “You know, I don’t care whether you did or didn’t do it. In fact, I believe you didn’t do it. But it doesn’t matter. If you didn’t do it, one of your brothers did. And you’re going to take the rap,” said District Attorney of Birmingham, David Barber as he interrogated Ray.

    The cards were stacked against Ray - a white witness carrying a grudge, a white district attorney, a white judge, a white jury. Nobody cared about the truth. Mix in an incompetent public defender and a ballistics expert blind in one eye who had trouble working the microscope and asked for help doing his job who would be crucified on the stand by the prosecutor.

    30 years in a cell nearby the room where 53 death row inmates were executed, I cannot imagine the psychological effects of being exposed long term to this barbaric practice, hearing anguished pleas, smelling burning flesh and urine…simply beyond comprehension. I was overwhelmed just thinking about it and the strength it must have taken to survive 30 years of this! I recently saw an interview of Ray, who seems to have no hate in his heart or carry a grudge. I am so inspired by his amazing spirit yet grieve for his loss of everything he’s missed out on over the years since back when Reagan was president including the love of his life, his mother, dying while he was still in prison.

    Attorney Bryan Stevenson is a shining star, a man who for years has steadfastly dedicated his life to the less fortunate and incarcerated and who fought for decades with his staff to get Ray his freedom.

    Thanks to St. Martin’s press for allowing me to read this extraordinary ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Diane S ☔

    I am not sure where to put my feelings after finishing this book. I am appalled, angry, sad but also filled with admiration for this inncent man on death row for over thirty years, who managed to retain hope and love. Not that he never got angry, he did, but he still hung on, didn't give up. He had a best friend, Lester a childhood friend who never missed visits, a mother to whom he was her baby boy, always asking him when he would be coming home, and he had his faith in God. His first lawyer in

    I am not sure where to put my feelings after finishing this book. I am appalled, angry, sad but also filled with admiration for this inncent man on death row for over thirty years, who managed to retain hope and love. Not that he never got angry, he did, but he still hung on, didn't give up. He had a best friend, Lester a childhood friend who never missed visits, a mother to whom he was her baby boy, always asking him when he would be coming home, and he had his faith in God. His first lawyer incompetent, fighting against a system prejudice that despite evidence to the contrary, would do anything for a conviction. He would also, eventually have Bryan Stevenson, the author of Just Mercy and his lawyers in the Equal justice initiative. In fact, Stevenson writes the forward in this book.

    That the criminal justice system in this country is evident just from what we see on our televisions. It seems always weekly men who have been in prison, serving long sentences are found innocent and released. This book makes this point perfectly clear. Even when the evidence was found to be faulty in his first trial, Hintons case was passed from Court to court. The amount of years this happened was beyond ridiculous, to me it was unconsciousable.

    During his time on death row, he started a book club, daydreamed his way out, to travel, pretend, allowing him the opportunity to escape mentally if he couldn't physically. Many books have left me teary eyed, but reading this book affected me so much I had tears running down my face more than once. All the things this man missed, the sorrows he endured, on being released the realization that the world had moved on in technology, and in other ways. Yet, he never lost his humanity, held on to his faith, but what he lost is beyond measure.

  • Lola

    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

    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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  • Brandice

    In

    Anthony Ray Hinton provides a first person account of his 30 years on Death Row - An innocent man served 30 -

    - years in prison for a crime he did not commit - That’s my entire life.

    Hinton talks about his life growing up in Alabama, but most of the book focuses on his time spent on Death Row because sadly, that’s where he was forced to spend the majority of his life. He is 62 today.

    There are some real disgus

    In

    Anthony Ray Hinton provides a first person account of his 30 years on Death Row - An innocent man served 30 -

    - years in prison for a crime he did not commit - That’s my entire life.

    Hinton talks about his life growing up in Alabama, but most of the book focuses on his time spent on Death Row because sadly, that’s where he was forced to spend the majority of his life. He is 62 today.

    There are some real disgusting people in this story - Hinton’s first lawyer, Perhacs, and McGregor, the prosecutor in the case, at the top of the list. It was infuriating to read especially because there were no consequences noted for their ignorant and negligent behavior in botching the case. This is not a fiction book with characters created to be intentionally dislikable - These are men who had it out for Hinton for no reason, and as a result, cost him a huge portion of his life. Lazy, racist and immoral are just a few top of mind words to describe them.

    Despite the infuriating elements, which remain throughout most of the book, I enjoyed reading Hinton’s story - His optimism, hope, and ability to escape Death Row’s terrible conditions on a daily basis, through his vivid imagination, were incredible. I honestly don’t know if I’d have it in me to persist and keep fighting after

    long! I also admired Hinton’s ability to forgive people, both those involved in his case, and other inmates in prison with him, who committed violent crimes - Everyone on death row isn’t innocent. Hinton’s consistent optimism is admirable, and a good reminder that the things we frequently consider problematic on a daily basis often aren’t, and are things we too often take for granted, when our situation could actually be much worse.

    I read

    a few years ago and it remains one of my favorite books today because it changed my perspective and challenged many of my thoughts on what I considered to be a pretty firm opinion regarding the death penalty. In

    , Hinton shares that he strongly opposes the death penalty and provides many reasons to support his position against it.

    Henry Hays, the son of a KKK leader was on Death Row with Hinton and ultimately executed for the lynching of a 19 year old African-American, Michael Donald, in Alabama in 1981. I already disliked Hays because of this while reading the book, and reading about the incident elsewhere after finishing the book didn’t change my opinion of him. It’s hard for me to believe Hays didn’t deserve the death penalty or feel any sympathy toward him after he committed such an immoral, heinous crime.

    Hinton states this, summarizing a pro- death penalty argument he read while in prison, and I’d be lying if I said this did not resonate with me, at least partially.

    That said, I agree the justice system is seriously flawed and in dire need of immediate improvement - The below statistic Bryan Stevenson cites in an article that is also included in this book is alarming:

    ”.

    Change is needed, and needed now. Hinton missed out on so much - time with his mom, his 30s, 40s and much of his 50s, the world - drastically changed by advanced technology over the last 30 years, and the opportunity to have children, among other things. It’s truly a tragedy. Today, Hinton travels, speaking out against the death penalty and for justice and prison reform. I hope he has the opportunity to enjoy everything he still wants to experience.

    is a heavy read, but one well worth reading.

  • Esil

    If you haven’t read

    by Bryan Stephenson , it’s a must read for anyone interested in the criminal justice system in the US and especially the death penalty. Strike that — it’s a must read for everyone.

    The Sun Does Shine has a foreword by Bryan Stephenson, but it is written by Anthony Ray Hinton, an inmate who was on death row in Alabama for 30 years. Hinton was sentenced to death for murders he did not commit. He is black and was too poor to afford a

    If you haven’t read

    by Bryan Stephenson , it’s a must read for anyone interested in the criminal justice system in the US and especially the death penalty. Strike that — it’s a must read for everyone.

    The Sun Does Shine has a foreword by Bryan Stephenson, but it is written by Anthony Ray Hinton, an inmate who was on death row in Alabama for 30 years. Hinton was sentenced to death for murders he did not commit. He is black and was too poor to afford a lawyer who could properly represent him. And it took thirty years before he was able to convince the US Supreme Court that his first trial was unfair and hadn’t allowed him to present clearly exculpatory evidence.

    What makes the book worth reading is Hinton himself. He is a force of nature. In his foreword, Stephenson mentions that even the guards were supportive of Hinton’s plea for a new trial. And it’s easy to see why. Despite being on death row, Hinton found a way to make the best of a terrible situation. He took the high road in difficult circumstances and looked for the humanity in everyone, including his fellow inmates. As just one example, he started a book club that led inmates who could barely read to talk about race and justice and other topics. He even became friends with the son of a well known white nationalist who was on death row for killing a black man.

    Hinton is very self reflective, and his book doesn’t just share his story, but many of his thoughts about faith, his love for his mother and close friends who stuck by him, how to stay strong in difficult situations, the failures of the criminal justice system and the inhumanity of the death penalty.

    There is also a fair amount of humour in Hinton’s book. Hinton clearly does this on purpose, at one point explaining that starting with humour is often a good way to put people at ease and get them to listen.

    Hinton is now 60 years old. He had a lot to say. His book is well worth reading. I don’t share the depth of his religious faith, but it clearly has kept him going and fuelled his admirable ability to look forward.

    I listened to the audio version, which was really well done. Hinton doesn’t read it, but it’s read in a voice that is full of life and expression.

  • Emer

    Imagine being an innocent man incarcerated on death row for thirty years. How do you stomach the hate and racism fired at you from the beginning of your arrest and trial when the only thing they have to say you're guilty is your skin colour and socioeconomic background? Imagine your polygraph being ignored, the ballistics "expert" your state-appointed lawyer can afford being legally blind in one eye...

    There are so many wrongs in this memoir of Anthony Ray Hinton's. So many injustices carried out against him. But the most wrong of all to me is the death penalty itself. I have never supported it, I do not support it and I will never support it. Everyone deserves the chance for redemption and to live out their days. Taking a life for a life is never okay.

    This book is utterly moving. I read it through falling tears and stirred up feelings of anger and frustration... Highly recommended.

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