Spring. Can you feel it coming? After the cold winter we’ve had, the time of rebirth and renewal will be especially welcome. It’s during this time of year that I always think of Anthony Ray Hinton. Mr. Hinton was held wrongly on Death Row in Alabama for 30 years. While I served on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, I had the privilege of playing a part in helping this innocent man regain his freedom; it remains one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences of my career. Mr. Hinton was finally released from prison in 2015. If ever someone deserved to be bitter and angry, it is he. And yet, he chose to focus on what his freedom brought him, rather than what some in the Alabama justice system had taken away.
“The first drop of rain that fell on me I was in Montgomery. I didn’t want to go in. I wanted to get wet, just like a little kid again…I didn’t appreciate a bird flying up on that window,” he said, gesturing. “Now, if a bird fly on that window, let him sit there. He ain’t hurting no one. The breeze that we feel from the air that he (God) give us, we take it for granted. So now I embrace things I never embraced before. I don’t even have time to hate. I have time to try to heal me.”
Every Spring, I try to see the world as Anthony sees it. I am better for it. I believe we are all better that this man—so full of grace and forgiveness— walks among us again. Free at last.