Man Votes For First Time In Presidential Election After 30 Years On Death Row For Crime He Didn’t Commit
A 64-year-old man was able to vote in a presidential election for the first time on Tuesday, November 3, after spending almost three decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Anthony Ray Hinton, whose story was featured on HBO’s True Justice, was charged with the murder of two fast food restaurant managers in Birmingham, Atlanta, in 1985.
He was sentenced to the death penalty and held in solitary confinement on death row for 28 years.
Hinton’s experience behind bars, having had his rights taken away from him, has now made him even more determined to make a difference.
‘You don’t know freedom until it’s taken from you,’ he told the Washington Post.
‘Being locked up for 30 years made me realise how important the vote was. By not voting, you allow people to get into the driver’s seat that allows them to oppress you even more,’ he added.
Hinton was exonerated on April 3, 2015. However, he wasn’t eligible to vote in the 2016 election. It wasn’t until the Moral Turpitude Act of 2017, which came into practice in 2018, that Alabama residents previously convicted of felonies were able to register to vote.
During his 1985 trial, the prosecution claimed Hinton, who was just 29 at the time, was guilty of the murders because of a revolver gun, which belonged to his mother. In 2002, firearms experts brought in by the Equal Justice Initiative testified that this particular gun was not the weapon used in the murders.
In his forties at the time, Hinton was granted a new trial and the charges were dropped after the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences determined that the bullets that killed the two victims could not have been used in his mother’s gun.
When he was finally able to vote on Tuesday, November 3, Hinton thought about his grandparents and his parents, who he says were blocked from voting as a result of literacy tests, poll taxes and intimidation.
‘To me this was a day of freedom dedicated to them, and all of the people who have been lynched, oppressed, or intimidated or disenfranchised from voting,’ Hinton said.
In 2017, the Equal Justice Initiative helped Hinton cast a vote for Doug Jones in the 2017 special Senate election, and in 2018 he voted for the first time in a midterm election. 2020 marks the first time he’s voted in a presidential election.
Since his release, the 64-year-old has written and published a memoir, called The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. He was also portrayed by O’Shea Jackson Junior in 2019’s Just Mercy.
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