Former death row inmate on new children’s book
▶ Watch Video: Former death row inmate Anthony Ray Hinton on lessons kids can learn from his life
Former death row inmate Anthony Ray Hinton, who was exonerated in 2015 after spending nearly 30 years behind bars in Alabama, says he has forgiven the state for its decades-long injustice. Since being released, Hinton says he hopes his life story serves as inspiration to others – particularly young people who “have no hope.”
“I don’t think you can get any lower than where I was: On death row for a crime you didn’t commit sitting in solitary confinement for 30 years,” he told “CBS Mornings” on Tuesday. “If I can hold onto hope and come out and try to be the person that I know that I am inside, I want them to know that they can do the same thing.”
In his latest book, “The Sun Does Shine,” adapted for young readers between the ages 10 and 14, Hinton details his journey toward finding joy and hope again after his experience in prison.
In 1985, detectives falsely identified Hinton for the murders of two fast-food workers and arrested the then-29-year-old at his Alabama residence. Hinton, who is Black, recalled detectives telling him at the time of his arrest that race would be a contributing factor into his conviction, whether he was guilty or not.
Hinton’s attorney Bryan Stevenson spent 16 years fighting to free Hinton. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously to exonerate Hinton.
In 2015, Hinton was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from St. Bonaventure University in New York. And since then, Hinton has spoken across the country on prison reform and has released a best-selling memoir, which was later chosen as a selection for Oprah Winfrey’s book club.
Although Hinton has been released from prison for years now, he says he is still deeply affected by the decades on death row.
“When I do cut the grass, I stop for whatever reason in that same spot and I remember as though it was yesterday that day that the police came and arrested me,” he said. “And it’s funny. I’ve been home seven years. I lock my doors. I try to be home at a certain time. I’m caught up in this scenario that if it happened once, they can make it happen again.”
He says Alabama hasn’t offered him psychological services that would assist in his rehabilitation since his exoneration.
“So I have to deal with it the best way that I can,” he said.
That includes not allowing the state to take his joy, moving on and choosing forgiveness.
“I have to forgive them,” Hinton said. “Forgiveness is not about the other person. As I say, forgiveness is about you. They took 30 years from me. There’s nothing I can do about that, but I am determined not to give them any, any, of the joy I have and I want to live the rest of my life until that day God calls. I want to be a light for people.”