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

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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…

Alabama Attorney General “commutes” death sentence without authority to do so

Alabama's death chamber
According to lawyers for convicted murderer and death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm, he and the state of Alabama entered into a “confidential settlement agreement…preventing any further execution attempts” by the state on March 26.

The offices of Attorney General Steve Marshall handled the arrangements for Hamm’s settlement. However, there is no provision in state law for Marshall to commute or negotiate away a death penalty sentence. Contrary to his actions, the state’s attorney general is required by statute to uphold the death penalty in Alabama.

Hamm was convicted and sentenced to death in the murder of Patrick Cunningham, a motel clerk in Cullman, Alabama, in the 1980s. After a botched execution that drew national attention, Marshall is now agreeing not to pursue another attempt at carrying out Hamm’s death sentence.  Marshall has agreed not to seek a new death warrant for Hamm’s execution.

Under the state’s 1901 Constitution, only the governor has the power of commutation. The Governor’s Office confirmed to APR that Gov. Kay Ivey did not commute Hamm’s sentence, leaving the question as to how Marshall did so in doubt. However, under the State Supreme Court’s Cornerstone ruling, Ivey can take over if her attorney general fails to enforce the law.

The Alabama Political Reporter asked the Ivey Administration if the governor will exercise her responsibility under Cornerstone. Her office did not immediately respond to APR‘s request.

The attorney general has a constitutional responsibility to uphold and defend the state’s death penalty — not to bargain it away in civil litigation.

The night before Hamm’s failed execution, Marshall, a former Democrat turned Republican in 2012, took to social media to burnish his conservative bonafides by announcing his support of Hamm’s death sentence, saying, “Tomorrow I will not request that Doyle Hamm’s execution be stopped, but instead I will ask that justice be served.”

After the gruesome details of the state’s failed attempt to put Hamm to death were published along with photos and a medical examiner’s report, Marshall appears to be backtracking on any further attempts to kill Hamm, due to the optics.

APR has published the horrifying consequences of the state’s mishandled attempt to carry out Hamm’s death sentence in February.

While no future efforts to execute Hamm may be a welcome to those who oppose the death penalty, it is worth noting Marshall has no legal standing to negotiate a settlement agreement, which, in effect, commutes Hamm’s sentence from death to life in prison.

Hamm’s lawyers, supporters and those who see state-sponsored execution as cruel and unusual punishment have cheered Marshall’s decision to halt Hamm’s death sentence permanently.

However, a legal challenge to Marshall’s standing to enter into such an arrangement could reverse the hard-won victory.

Marshall and his staff have refused to comment.

Source: alreporter.com, Bill Brit, April 2, 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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