Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

Belarus Sticks to Death Penalty Over Europe’s Displeasure

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
More than 400 convicts have been put to death since 1990, rights activists say.

Last October the Belarusian authorities executed a man for the murder of his 9-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son, although the public and the man’s family knew nothing of it.

Not until this month did the news come out, when the man’s mother notified a campaigner against the death penalty, Andrey Poluda, TUT.by reported

Europe’s major transnational organizations denounced the latest execution.

“Once again we stand firm against any death sentence imposed by the Belarusian judiciary and any executions carried out in that country,” Yves Cruchten, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s general rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty, and Andrea Rigoni, PACE rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, said in an 8 March statement.

Cruchten and Rigoni once again called upon the government to place a moratorium on executions.

Belarus has remained outside the Council of Europe, Europe’s chief human rights watchdog, largely over the organization’s opposition to capital punishment.

The European Union also condemned any use of the death penalty and called on Belarus “to introduce without delay a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition.”

Belarus is the only country in Europe or the Commonwealth of Independent States where the death penalty is still used. Trials in capital cases and executions take place behind a veil of secrecy. Relatives of condemned people are not informed about their executions and the place of burial remains unknown.

Poluda is active in Belarus’s best known rights group, Vesna, a rare open opponent of capital punishment in the country.

In an interview with the publication Belorussky Partizan, Poluda said the authorities keep a lid on information about the conditions for death-row convicts and the executions themselves, and ignore international pressure, such as the UN Human Rights Committee resolution expressing concern about the use of capital punishment “without guarantee of due process.”

In November, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka argued that “the question of the preservation of the death penalty was adopted at a referendum and it cannot be abolished,” the state news agency BelTA reported.

In his interview, Poluda said it was irrelevant to cite the referendum, which took place in 1996. There was no possibility of a life sentence under Belarusian legislation at the time; the maximum term of imprisonment was only 15 years. Besides, “capital punishment is a very emotional issue which should not be resolved by a plebiscite,” he said. The activist believes Lukashenka is afraid that, having touched upon this issue, others which were decided by referendum might be revisited.

The 1996 plebiscite extended Lukashenka’s powers and prolonged his term in office from 1999 to 2001, over opposition from the Belarusian opposition, several European Union countries, and the United States.

“Change is terrifying” for Lukashenka, Poluda said.
  • Women may not be put to death in Belarus, according to Cornell Law School’s capital punishment database.
  • The Belarusian criminal code states that all executions are by "firing squad." In practice, this means a shot fired into the back of the head. “Typically, prisoners are executed within hours or even minutes of learning that their clemency application has been denied,” according to the Cornell project.
  • More than 400 executions have been carried out since 1990, according to Belorussky Partizan, and five men are currently on death row, TUT.by says. The number has fallen sharply since the 1990s. At least 20 prisoners have been put to death since 2007, Cornell estimates.
Source: tol.org, March 23, 2018

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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