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The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice


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The New York Times bestseller and Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection.

Winner of the 2019 Moore Prize

Finalist, Dayton Peace Prize, 2019

"An amazing and heartwarming story, it restores our faith in the inherent goodness of humanity.”
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, and justice.

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence—full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250309471
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 25,004
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

ANTHONY RAY HINTON spent nearly thirty years on death row for crimes he didn’t commit. Released in April 2015, Hinton now speaks widely on prison reform and the power of faith and forgiveness. He lives in Alabama.

Read an Excerpt



But more so than the evidence, I have never had as strong a feeling in trying any other case that the defendant just radiated guilt and pure evil as much as in the Hinton trial.


There's no way to know the exact second your life changes forever. You can only begin to know that moment by looking in the rearview mirror. And trust me when I tell you that you never, ever see it coming. Did my life change forever the day I was arrested? Or did the life-changing moment happen even earlier? Was that day just the culmination of a whole series of fateful moments, poor choices, and bad luck? Or was the course of my life determined by being black and poor and growing up in a South that didn't always care to be civil in the wake of civil rights? It's hard to say. When you are forced to live out your life in a room the size of a bathroom — a room that's five feet wide by seven feet long — you have plenty of time to replay the moments of your life. To imagine what might have happened if you had run when they came chasing you. Or if you had gotten that baseball scholarship. Or married that girl when you had the chance. We all do it. Replay the horrific moments of our lives and reimagine them by going left instead of right, being this person instead of that person, making different choices. You don't have to be locked up to occupy your mind and your days trying to rewrite a painful past or undo a terrible tragedy or make right a horrible wrong. But pain and tragedy and injustice happen — they happen to us all. I'd like to believe it's what you choose to do after such an experience that matters the most — that truly changes your life forever.

I'd really like to believe that.

Jefferson County Jail, December 10, 1986 My mom sat on the other side of the glass wall that separated us, looking out of place in her ivory gloves, green-and-blue flowered dress, and her wide blue hat rimmed in white lace. She always dressed for jail like she was going to church. But a nice outfit and impeccable manners have always been used as weapons in the South. And the bigger her hat, the more she meant business. That woman wore hats taller than the pope's. Looking at my mama in this visiting room, you would hardly guess in her own Southern way she was armed to the teeth and ready for battle. During the trial and even on visiting days, she looked a bit dazed and bewildered by it all. She had been like that ever since my arrest a year and a half ago. Lester said he thought she was still in shock. Lester Bailey and I have been friends since he was four years old and our mothers told us to go out and play together. I was six then and far too old to play with a four-year-old. But even though I had tried to lose him that first day, he stuck with me. Twenty-three years later, he was still sticking with me.

During every visit, it was as if my mom couldn't understand why I was still in jail. Three months earlier, I had been found guilty of robbing and murdering two people. Three months since twelve people decided I was no longer of value and this world would somehow be a better place if I weren't in it. Their recommendation was that I be murdered. Oh, the sanitized way of saying it is "sentenced to death." But let's call it what it is. They wanted to murder me because I had murdered.

Only they had the wrong guy.

I was working the night shift in a locked warehouse when the manager at a Quincy's restaurant fifteen miles away was abducted, robbed, and shot. I was mistakenly identified. The police claimed an old .38 caliber pistol owned by my mother was the murder weapon. The State of Alabama claimed this gun was not only used in the Quincy's robbery and attempted murder but also two other murders in the area where restaurant managers had been robbed at closing time, forced into coolers, and then murdered. That old gun my mom owned, I don't think it had been used in twenty-five years. Maybe longer. I had never even been in a fight, but now, I was not only a killer but the kind of cold-blooded killer that would hold a gun to your head and pull the trigger for a few hundred bucks and then just go about my business like it was nothing.

God knows my mama didn't raise no killer. And during those months of waiting for the official sentencing from the judge, her demeanor hadn't changed from before I was convicted. Did she know I was one court date away from the death chamber? We didn't speak on it, and truly I wasn't sure if she was pretending on my account, or I was pretending on her account, or we were both just so caught up in this nightmare that neither of us really knew how to face what had happened.

"When are you coming home, baby? When are they going to let you come home?"

I looked at Lester, who stood behind her, one hand resting on her left shoulder while she held the phone up to her right ear. He usually came alone to see me, and my mom came with my sister or the neighbor. Every week, Lester would be the first in line on visiting day, stopping in on his way to work to say hello and put some money on my books so I had the essentials. He had done that for the last year and a half, like clockwork every single week. He was the first one there no matter what. He really was the best, best friend a guy could have.

Lester looked back at me and shrugged and then shook his head a little. My mom always asked when "they" were going to let me come home. I was the baby of the family — her baby. Up until my arrest, we were together every day. We went to church together. Ate our meals together. Laughed together. Prayed together. She was my absolute everything, and I was hers. I couldn't think of any big moment in my life when my mom wasn't right there by my side, cheering me on. Every baseball game. Before exams and school dances. Graduation. When I got home from work in the coal mine, she was always there waiting to hug me no matter how dirty I was. When I went to my first day of work at the furniture store, she was up early to make me breakfast and pack me a lunch. And she was there every day of my trial. Smiling up at everyone in that courtroom in her best dress with the kind of love that can just break a man's heart into a million pieces. She believed in me — always had, always would. Even now. Even though a jury had found me guilty, she still believed in me. I could feel the lump form in my throat and my eyes start to sting. She and Lester were probably the only people in the world who knew what I knew: I was innocent. They didn't care that the press made me out to be some kind of monster. The fact that these two people never doubted me for a second — well, let's just say I hung on to that like my life depended on it. But even if I were guilty, even if I had murdered those two people in cold blood for a little cash, my mom and Lester would have still loved me and believed in me. They would have still been right where they were. What does a man do with a love like that? What does a man do?

I looked down until I could get control. I had tried my best to keep my feelings and emotions in check throughout the trial because I didn't want to upset my mom. I didn't want her to see me cry. I didn't want her to feel my fear or my pain. My mom had always tried to protect me, to take away my pain. But this pain was too much for even a mother's love to contain. I couldn't do that to her. I wouldn't do that no matter how hard they pushed me. It was all I had left to give.

After a few moments, I looked back up and smiled at my mom. Then Lester and I locked eyes once more.

He shook his head again.

When you've known a guy as long as I have known Lester, you have a kind of unspoken language. I had asked him not to let anyone talk to my mom about my sentencing. My sister had wanted to sit her down and make her understand that they could put me to death and that I was never coming home. Make her face it and deal with it. Lester put a stop to all that talk. I would come home someday. I didn't want my mom to lose her hope. There's no sadder place to be in this world than a place where there's no hope.

When Lester came to visit alone, he and I could talk freely — well, as freely as two guys can talk when their every word is being recorded. We had a sort of code. But since my conviction, it didn't seem to matter much anymore. Time was running out, so we had talked about my options openly.

I put my hand up on the thick glass that separated me from my mom, and I readjusted the phone's handset against my ear. She leaned forward and stretched her arm out so that her hand was pressed against the other side of the wall that separated us.

"Soon, Mama," I said. "They're working on it. I plan to be home soon."

I had a plan. Lester knew it. I knew it. God knew it. And that was all that mattered. Now that I had blocked out all the sadness, I could feel the anger rising up through me and fighting to get out. It had come in waves ever since my conviction. Tonight I would pray again. Pray for the truth. Pray for the victims. Pray for my mom and for Lester. And I would pray that the nightmare I had been living for almost two years would end somehow. There was no question how my sentencing would turn out, but I would still pray for a miracle and try not to criticize it if the miracle didn't look like what I expected.

It's what my mama had always taught me.

Jefferson County Courthouse, December 15, 1986

It was nothing less than a lynching — a legal lynching — but a lynching all the same. The anger I had tried so hard to stuff down and pray away was back in full force. My only crime was being born black, or being born black in Alabama. Everywhere I looked in this courtroom, I saw white faces — a sea of white faces. Wood walls, wood furniture, and white faces. The courtroom was impressive and intimidating. I felt like an uninvited guest in a rich man's library. It's hard to explain exactly what it feels like to be judged. There's a shame to it. Even when you know you're innocent. It still feels like you are coated in something dirty and evil. It made me feel guilty. It made me feel like my very soul was put on trial and found lacking. When it seems like the whole world thinks you're bad, it's hard to hang on to your goodness. I was trying, though. The Lord knows I was trying. I had been all over the Birmingham newspapers from the time of my arrest and then throughout the trial. The press had judged me guilty from the second I had stepped out of my mama's yard. So had the police detectives and the experts and the prosecutor — a sorry-looking man with a weak chin, saggy jowls, and a pallor that made it look like he had never worked a day outside in his life. Now, if I had to judge anyone as evil in that courtroom, it would have been Prosecutor McGregor. There was a meanness that came out of his small, close-set eyes — a hatred that was hard and edgy and brittle. He looked like he could snap at any moment. Like some sort of rabid weasel. If he could have executed me right then and there, he would have done so and then gone about having his lunch without further thought. And then there was Judge Garrett. He was a large man; even in his loose black robe, he looked overstuffed and uncomfortable. He had a ruddy color to his cheeks. He preened and puffed and made a big show out of everything, but it was all a farce. Oh, sure, they all went through the motions. For almost two weeks, they paraded out witnesses and experts and walked us through the chain of custody and exhibits A to Z, all of which I guess gave legitimacy to what was already a foregone conclusion. I was guilty. Hell, as far as the police and the prosecutor and the judge and even my own defense attorney were concerned, I was born guilty. Black, poor, without a father most of my life, one of ten children — it was actually pretty amazing I had made it to the age of twenty-nine without a noose around my neck. But justice is a funny thing, and in Alabama, justice isn't blind. She knows the color of your skin, your education level, and how much money you have in the bank. I may not have had any money, but I had enough education to understand exactly how justice was working in this trial and exactly how it was going to turn out. The good old boys had traded in their white robes for black robes, but it was still a lynching.

"Your Honor, the State rests."

"All right, any witnesses for the defense?"

I watched incredulously as my attorney declined to question the second bailiff who had just lied about me under oath. I never told either bailiff that I knew how to get one over on a polygraph test. I had spent almost two years waiting for my trial — purposefully not talking to anyone about anything to do with my case — and now supposedly in the hallway outside the courtroom, I had confessed to a bailiff that I had cheated to pass my polygraph, a polygraph the State wouldn't allow to be admitted because it had proven that I was innocent? It didn't make sense. None of it made sense.

My attorney turned away from the judge and looked at me. "Do you want to testify?"

I could see the bailiff smirking as he got out of the witness stand. Did I want to testify? They were about to sentence me to death, and nobody was speaking up on my behalf. There were things that needed to go on the record. My wrists were shackled and cuffed together, a heavy chain linking them to the leg irons around my ankles. For a moment, I imagined wrapping that chain around all their necks, but then I unclenched my fists and placed the palms of my hands together as if to pray. I wasn't a murderer. Never had been, never would be. I looked over at the jury, at McGregor, who stared back at me with hatred and self-righteousness, at the judge, who looked overheated and bored. I had spent a good many years testifying for God in church, and now it was time to testify for myself in this courtroom.

I nodded at my attorney. "Yes," I said, a bit louder than I meant to. Inside my head, I was screaming, Hell yes, and I accidentally banged my chains against the table as I stood up from my chair.

"Is there any way he can have these handcuffs removed, Judge?"

My attorney was finally doing something right. Fighting a little. I knew at this point it was more about saving face and winning something than about believing in me. When he was assigned to my case and told he would get paid $1,000, I heard him mutter, "I eat $1,000 for breakfast." He was going through the motions, but I knew his heart wasn't in it. He either thought I was guilty or he didn't care much one way or the other. I was just another file in a big stack of files. We had been together for almost two years, but he didn't know me. Not really. Not in the way you would want someone to know you when he holds your life in his hands. Still, I needed him. He knew that, and I knew that. So I was polite and respectful. If today went the way everyone knew it would go, I would still need him.

I held my wrists out to the bailiff. He smirked again as he unlocked my cuffs. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my mom in the second row. Lester sat on one side of her, and my sister Dollie sat on the other. Our neighbor Rosemary was also there. I looked all the way over my shoulder as the handcuffs came off, and she gave me a little wave. I glanced at Lester and he gave me a quick nod. We had an endgame in mind.

I walked up to the witness stand and turned around and looked out over the courtroom. I was happy to be able to see my mom and face her eye to eye. She smiled at me, and I could feel my heart tighten. God, how I was going to miss her. No matter how big her smile, I knew she was scared, and all this legal mumbo jumbo might as well have been a foreign language. When she had left after that last visit, it had made her smile to hear me say I would be home soon sitting at our table and eating one of her Sunday afternoon cakes. She could bake a cake so good it would make the devil himself confess his sins and beg for mercy just to have a bite. Sometimes, late at night, I would close my eyes and see her red velvet cake with buttercream frosting so clearly in my mind, I swear I could actually smell all that butter and sugar. My imagination has always been both a blessing and a curse. It helped me get through some rough times growing up, but it had also gotten me into some trouble. Nothing like the trouble I was in now.

Every day since they had arrested me, I had thought, Today will be the day. They'll know I was at work. They'll find the guy that really did it. Somebody will believe me.

It was all some bad dream that I couldn't wake up from.

I smiled back at my mom, and then I looked over at McGregor. He had been glaring at me for two weeks. It was a famous tactic of his. Stare at the defendant until he cowers. Show him who's the alpha dog. Well, I wasn't a dog, and I wasn't about to cower. On the inside, I was scared to death. I wanted to go home. I didn't want to die. But on the outside, I had to be strong. For my mom. For my friends. Martin Luther King once said, "A man can't ride you unless your back is bent." So I sat with my back as straight as possible in that courtroom, and when McGregor stared at me, I straightened my back even more and stared right into his eyes. He was trying to ride me, all right, trying to kill me. And I wasn't going to make it any easier for him, or for any of them, than it already was.


Excerpted from "The Sun Does Shine"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Anthony Ray Hinton.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Bryan Stevenson xiii

1 Capital Offense 1

2 All American 19

3 A Two-Year Test Drive 33

4 The Cooler Killer 47

5 Premeditated Guilt 62

6 The Whole Truth 69

7 Conviction, Conviction, Conviction 83

8 Keep Your Mouth Shut 96

9 On Appeal 107

10 The Death Squad 122

11 Waiting to Die 138

12 The Queen of England 149

13 No Monsters 162

14 Love Is a Foreign Language 175

15 Go Tell It on the Mountain 187

16 Shakedown 198

17 Gods Best Lawyer 209

18 Testing the Bullets 218

19 Empty Chairs 231

20 Dissent 256

21 They Kill You on Thursdays 271

22 Justice for All 283

23 The Sun Does Shine 290

24 Bang on the Bars 299

Afterword: Pray for Them by Name 305

Acknowledgments 333

Reading Group Guide

By Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin

A Reading Group Gold Selection


· A Conversation with Anthony Ray Hinton

· Reading Group Questions

ABOUT THE AUTHOR [margin text]
A Conversation with Anthony Ray Hinton [section head]

What books did you read while in prison?
· I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings—Maya Angelou
· Go Tell It on the Mountain—James Baldwin
· To Kill a Mockingbird—Harper Lee
· Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine—Bebe Moore Campbell
· Uncle Tom’s Cabin—Harriet Beecher Stowe

Starting the book club was a way to help the other men on the row focus on anything other than death. Books have always been a poor man’s transportation to travel the world. I had never made it to college, but I still had more education than a lot of the guys. I loved learning. I loved pondering a big idea or a philosophical question. I loved seeing the world through other people’s eyes and that’s what books did for me. I can’t say specifically what moved me or the other guys about a particular book—but they all transported us. They took us away from our own lives and into the cities and towns of the characters in the pages. The books we read gave us a mirror to the divide between black and white we had all experienced in one way or another—even Henry Hays—and also gave us a new language to express it in. We all saw ourselves in the books we read, and we hung on to those stories and passed them around like contraband because they were a doorway that led us out of our five-by-seven cells, out of the prison library, and into a place that existed somewhere between the reality of our life and our death.

What three things (or people) helped you get through your time in prison?

Without a doubt, my imagination was the number one thing that helped me survive thirty years in hell. It’s a struggle to get your mind right and keep your sanity when you are on death row—but I think it’s even harder to do that when you know you are innocent. I can’t speak for others, but when you are in a living, waking nightmare, you have to have a way to escape in your imagination. The State of Alabama could tell me what to wear, when to eat, when to sleep, and they could take away my name and give me a number. They controlled every single moment of how I spent my life for thirty years. The one thing that belonged to me—that I had complete control of—was my own mind. My imagination. My perspective. My experience of reality. They couldn’t lock up my mind. Or control it. Or threaten to kill it. My soul and my imagination were God-given and no one could touch those. In prison, how you do your time is how you live. You can fight and resist against every second of the clock and day on the calendar—or you can transcend time and space. It may sound crazy, but I was able to transcend time and space. As far as I was concerned, Alabama had kidnapped me and were holding me prisoner. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I learned, as many trauma victims do, to purposefully disassociate myself from my experience. I mean, I’m no psychologist—but I am a survivor.
The other “thing” that got me through three difficult decades was my humor. When I am laughing or making others laugh, it lifts my spirit up. It’s another form of transcendence. By nature I am a joyful person, and hearing laughter in hell is its own kind of justice.
Looking forward to Lester’s visits also helped me mark and pass the time. The hours I spent with my best friend reminded me of who I was and where I was from and even where I belonged. Time with Lester has been simple and easy and meaningful since we were boys. Having a constant presence of someone who believed in me helped me endure. Lester wasn’t an imaginary friend—he was flesh and blood and friendship and faith. His unwavering support steadied me. Year after year after year. I could never adequately put into words how Lester saved my life. Friendship can be even more powerful than family because the bond is built on time and experience and a million different moments. Blood is blood, but friendship is a choice.
Ultimately how I got through changed day to day. Some days it took more faith; other days it took focusing on another man’s problems or spending time hearing the stories of the other men. The “monsters” on death row were once children who needed play and hope and love and stability just like you and I. Many of them never got those things. It doesn’t justify their actions later in life, but there was more to each man than the worst thing they had done.
Some days I passed my time finding out what that was.

How do you spend your time since leaving prison? What are your hobbies?

Since I’ve left prison I spend my time feeling the rain on my skin, walking for miles at a time just because I can, cooking and eating delicious food, and of course, watching sports, which I have always loved and always will (I have more Auburn gear than you could even imagine). But the majority of my time is spent talking about my experience on death row and doing everything I can to make sure that innocent men and women are not put to death. I do not believe we have a moral or a legal right to take a life—not even in exchange for another life. Murder is wrong—even when you are the State or doing it for the people.
I get asked all the time if I have gotten a girlfriend since my release and the answer is no. I’m open to dating and I’m also still waiting for Sandra Bullock or Halle Berry to read the book and give me a call. Sometimes I wonder about the woman I would have married and the children I would have had if I have not been wrongfully incarcerated. It’s too painful to think about sometimes. I imagine teaching my sons or daughters to play baseball just like I imagine having worked for thirty years and being able to retire. The truth is, my life was stolen away and my children were kidnapped before they had a chance to be born. You can’t measure what the State of Alabama stole from me in years or even decades—it can only be measured in generations. I wasn’t put to death, but the potential of my children, and my grandchildren, and the entire legacy of my existence was killed on death row.
Some days I spend my days grateful to be free and determined to inspire and help, and other days I spend grieving what was lost.

What is one thing you wish you could say to young Ray after his death sentence was handed down?

I would tell him that hope is a choice, and to pace himself. I don’t think I would tell him that it was going to take thirty years for the truth to be known. Some things are easier to endure if you believe they will be over at any moment. I would tell young Ray that his mind is stronger than he knows. I would also tell him that someday he will share his story in a book, so write down everything he can so it’s not so painful to relive later. I would probably also tell him that he was going to meet Oprah.

Should the death penalty be abolished?
Absolutely! The death penalty doesn’t deter crime and as I said, killing, of any kind, is wrong. It’s a broken system. It’s a barbaric system. It’s not a system that elevates humanity. My faith tells me not to kill. I don’t remember hearing anything about that being conditional.

What was your first thought when you learned you were going to be released from prison?
Because it was April Fools’ Day, I thought at first it was a practical joke. But I knew Bryan Stevenson wasn’t a practical joker, so I couldn’t quite understand what I was hearing. I fell to the floor. There are no words and there were no thoughts. Imagine holding your breath for thirty years. I didn’t think. I finally exhaled.

Do you keep in touch with any inmates you lived with in prison?
I have tried to reach out to some of the men, but I don’t want to say their names here because I believe that the prison is not allowing my letters. It is my greatest wish that now that there is a paperback of my book, it can be sent to every single man and woman on death row in this country and every single person in prison around the world. My message to the men at Holman is the same as my message to you—life is short. Forgive. Keep your faith in truth, in goodness, and in the ability of people to change. And hope is a light that can never be extinguished, no matter where you are.

What can people do to aid prisoners who have been wrongfully convicted?

Well, first of all, we can all work for social justice and to create a judicial system that does not sentence you based on your income or your skin color. We can vote for politicians who believe that we have a broken system in need of reform and are willing to acknowledge the broken pieces and repair them. I believe that we need a system that gets to the root cause of criminality and leads with the belief that people can be rehabilitated and that every single life is worthwhile.
When men and women are exonerated and released from wrongful incarceration, they need support to transition back to noninstitutional life. They don’t need cameras in their faces; they need help getting a driver’s license, a job, and a safe place to live. They need help reintegrating into a quickly changing technological world. They need compensation for the years they lost. They need to know they are valued.
Don’t we all?

KEEP ON READING [margin text]
Reading Group Questions [section head]

“I forgive because not to forgive would only hurt me.” —Ray Hinton

1. Before being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, Anthony Ray Hinton was in trouble with the law for stealing a car. Does this in any way make you less sympathetic to his plight?

2. Discuss the friendship of Ray and Lester. Can you imagine a friend who would visit you every visiting day for thirty years? What does their relationship teach us about friendship?

3. What did you think of the friendship of Ray and fellow inmate Henry Hays, who was raised in a family of virulent racists? What does this friendship teach us about love and hate?

4. Do you think the death penalty system is broken? How would you like to see it changed?

5. The State of Alabama has not apologized or compensated Ray Hinton for his wrongful imprisonment. Do you think he should be paid? Some say he shouldn’t be paid because he was never proven innocent. What do you say to this argument?

6. Ray and Bryan Stevenson, his lawyer, both say that nobody is defined by the worst thing they have ever done. Do you agree? Does this help you have more compassion for those incarcerated or on death row?

7. What was the turning point for Ray in how he would survive in prison? What does this teach you?

8. What personal qualities help Ray not only to survive prison, but actually make a positive impact around him?

9. How would you like to see our prison system reformed? What programs would be beneficial to our society, and why?

10. Do you think Ray Hinton should have forgiven those who wronged him? If you were greatly wronged, could you forgive? Do you believe there are situations in which forgiveness is not the right solution?

11. Ray spent his first three years on death row without speaking. When is silence the loudest form of expression? Have you found moments in your own life when silence was more powerful than speech?

12. Ray states that “spending your days waiting to die is no way to live.” What are some ways that you practice living, not merely existing? Where do you draw the line between the two?

13. What is the role of faith in The Sun Does Shine? Does Ray Hinton’s questioning of his own faith strengthen or diminish it? What if Ray Hinton had not believed in God at all: do you think that would have affected his ability to sustain himself?

14. Along with his friend Lester, Ray Hinton’s mother was his most faithful visitor and supporter. If you were accused of a terrible crime, would you expect support from your family and best friend? If someone you loved were accused, would you offer that support?

15. Ray Hinton founded a book club on death row, reading books by James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and others. If you were confined with a group of people, whether incarcerated or in another circumstance, what books would you want to read for a book club?

16. Some books about the worst of life—Elie Wiesel’s Night, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle—endure as inspirational classics. Why do people find hope in such stories? Does The Sun Does Shine make you feel angry or hopeful?

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