Exonerated death row survivor comes to University of Illinois

Anthony Ray Hinton shares his story about race, poverty, and legal injustice

A Rightful Chance at Life: Dialogue with Anthony Hinton
April 18 at 7 p.m.
SDRP Multipurpose Room (2025)

This event is free and open to University of Illinois students and members of the local community. A book signing will follow the program.

Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. One of the longest serving death row prisoners in Alabama history will present the extraordinary story of his decades-long journey to exoneration and freedom.

Thirty years ago, Hinton was arrested and charged with the murder of two fast-food restaurant managers based solely on the assertion that a revolver taken from his mother’s home was the gun used in both murders. Without the benefit of a competent expert to challenge the State’s ballistics experts, an all-white jury convicted Hinton and he was sentenced to death.

After years of petitioning to have the gun re-analyzed, attorneys from the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative were able to engage three of the nation’s top firearms examiners who testified in 2002 that the revolver could not be matched to crime evidence. State prosecutors never questioned the new findings but nonetheless refused to re-examine the case or concede error.

It took 12 more years of litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower courts and granted a new trial. The judge finally dismissed the charges after prosecutors said that scientists at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences tested the evidence and confirmed that the crime bullets could not be matched to the Hinton weapon.

When Hinton was freed in 2015, the lead attorney on the case commented, “Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice. I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton.”

Hinton wrote a memoir, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom in Death Row, about his experiences, and he will share his story and discuss the changes that need to be made to prevent these types of injustices from happening to other innocent people.
 
The event is hosted by University Housing and the Honors Living-Learning Community in cooperation with the Central Residential Funding Board.