An urgent, emotional memoir from one of the longest-serving condemned death row inmates to be found innocent in America.
One night in July 1985, Hinton was locked in a secure warehouse of a supermarket for his overnight shift when, 15 miles away, the assistant manager of a local restaurant was kidnapped at gunpoint, robbed, and shot in the head. Less than a week later, police showed up at Hinton’s house to arrest him for that crime and the murders of two other local Alabama restaurant managers. Hinton was black, 29, living at home with his mother, and innocent of all charges. At his trial, his lawyer presented an incompetent defense that failed to refute the state’s distorted evidence and several witnesses’ false claims. Hinton was found guilty of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death by electric chair. For the next three decades, he maintained his innocence in solitary confinement on Alabama’s death row, where he watched more than 50 men led past his cell to the execution chamber just 30 feet away. The truth of Hinton’s innocence and his unshakable faith in God helped him cope with prison life and several failed repeal attempts until Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, eventually took up his case and brought it all the way to the Supreme Court. After nearly 30 years, all charges against Hinton were dropped, and he was released from prison in 2015. Woven into vivid descriptions of life behind bars are flashbacks to the author’s childhood, court transcripts, police documents, news clippings, and correspondence that reveal the roles racism, poverty, and fear played in creating a deeply biased criminal justice system that punishes the poor and people of color. Stevenson (Just Mercy, 2014) provides a powerful foreword.
A heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about truth, justice, and the need for criminal justice reform.