cover image 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

Anthony Ray Hinton, with Lara Love Hardin. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-12471-5

In this intense memoir, Hinton recounts his three-decade nightmare: awaiting execution for crimes he didn’t commit. In 1985, Hinton, then 29, was charged with a series of violent robberies as well as the murders of two restaurant managers in Birmingham, Ala. Hinton passed a polygraph test and was in a locked warehouse during one robbery, but that didn’t prevent an all-white jury from finding him guilty after only two hours (the death penalty recommendation took another 45 minutes). Hinton here provides a convincing description of continued segregation and injustice in the deep South that cages the underclass as effectively as prison walls. His depictions of prison life are wrenching, as when he recalls the 1987 electric chair execution of Wayne Ritter and how the smell of Ritter’s burning flesh “burned my nose and stung my throat.” Forced to hone his mind to withstand overwhelming isolation, Hinton read voraciously and studied his case. With the unwavering support of his mother and his best friend, Hinton created a fulfilling life for himself, which included running a book club for death row inmates. After many years, his dogged pursuit of justice led civil rights attorney Bryan Stephenson to adopt his cause. Hinton was freed from prison in 2015, and now works as a motivational speaker. Hinton’s life is one of inspiration, which he wonderfully relays here in bitingly honest prose. (Mar.)