The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice on Death Row
Author: Anthony Ray Hinton
Narrator: Kevin R Free
Published: March 27, 2018
Audiobook: 9 hours 11 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: January 20-25, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.
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, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence—full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.
With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.
It’s hard to believe that this story is true! This memoir telling Anthony Ray Hinton’s story is a shocking true story of injustice. In Alabama the mid-1980s he was found guilty of multiple murders and a jury sentenced him to life in prison. The judge changed his sentence to death. I had no idea that judges could do that! What’s even worse is that Anthony Ray Hinton was 1000% innocent and evidence even showed that. Even more of a travesty was that he spent almost 30 years of his life on Death Row!
Yes, Hinton did have a little bit of a criminal past, but nothing even close to murder! The state of Alabama even knew that he was innocent but still wanted to execute him. It did not matter that the real killer was out there. The evidence even showed he was innocent: He was at work on the night of one particular murder and he worked 20 minutes away from where the crime happened! His mother’s gun had not been shot in 25 years, and he even passed a polygraph which unfortunately not admissible in court. Mr. Hinton was a young black man in Alabama. And he did not have money. Most people on death row are poor. Yes, most are guilty, but the injustice that Mr. Hinton suffered over the 30 years just leaves a poor taste in your mouth in regards to our justice system.
We do get to see what life on Death Row was like for Hinton and the others. He tells us everything. He spent his first three years silent. Over time he saw many men executed and he tells the readers what the inmates did when another was in the process of being executed. Over the course of his thirty years the death penalty changed from electrocution to lethal injection. At one point in his time inside the inmates were to form a book club and talked books! That brought joy to this book lover’s heart. They were able to pass books around to each other and talk books.
Over time we see the losses that Mr. Hinton deals with, and what could bring anger, hatred, and more to an innocent person spending all that time inside. The reader gets to experience Mr. Hinton’s mental ‘escapes’ and meeting the queen of England and ‘marrying’ several famous actresses. I hope he was actually able to meet at least one of these women in real life! I listened to the audiobook version and once he was finally released on April 3, 2015, I raised my hand in victory! The travesty of the injustice he experienced just angered this listener. The narrator was Kevin R Free and he brought the perfect voice to Hinton in narrating this tragic real-life story. Hinton’s life story is one everyone must read or listen to. I would love to hear him tell his story in person one day.
Here are some quotes from the memoir:
“He was a poor man in a criminal justice system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent.”
“My mama always told me that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
“No one can understand what freedom means until they don’t have it.”
Hinton’s story just makes you think about the innocent ones on death row who have been executed and who are currently there now. Our justice system really needs to be looked at. For me it is far worse for someone innocent to be imprisoned than a guilty person walking free. What happens if someone is found innocent and they spend all that time in prison.
This is a memoir that stays with you and leaves you thinking.