Anthony Ray Hinton Released After Almost 30 Years On Death Row

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After almost 30 years on death row, Anthony Ray Hinton was released from prison today after the prosecution dropped the charges. Family and friends sobbed and rushed to hug Anthony Ray Hinton as he walked out of the jail in downtown Birmingham free man. Hinton been imprisoned since he was convicted of murdering two men in 1985.

At 58, he has spent the majority of his life awaiting death in a 5 by 8 cell.

“They just didn’t take me from my family and friends,” Hinton told the crowd assembled for his release. “They had every intention of executing me for something I didn’t do.”

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Hinton a new trial. And new ballistic testing showed the bullets at the crime scene didn’t match bullets found in Hinton’s house. This week prosecutors decided not to retry the case.

Hinton says he has always prayed for the families of the victims who have also been denied justice.

“His case, in my judgment, is a case study in what’s wrong with our system,” said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. “He was convicted because he’s poor. We have a system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent and his case proves it. We have a system that is compromised by racial bias and his case proves it.” EJI represented Hinton.

Outside the jail, Hinton’s sister, Elizabeth Hinton, says their mother always maintained he was innocent and prayed he would be released. And though she’s not alive to see it, she was right.

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