At just 30 years old, Ray Hinton was convicted of killing two restaurant managers and was sentenced to die in Alabama. At the age of 57, the United States Supreme Court, overturned that death sentence, which allowed him to have a new trial that resulted in his exoneration. Hinton sat with Scott Pelley for a 60 Minutes interview along with two other prisoners who was exonerated. They spoke of the feeling that comes with being falsely convicted and the ability to walk freely.
Hinton had stated in an unaired clip that CBS News posted on their website, how death row was the “smell of death” in regards to the electric chair just drifting through the prison air.
Pelley asked, “When you smelled that smell did you think, ‘I’m next?’”
Hinton responded, “Oh, of course. Anybody that’s on death row, you have to think about — it could be you next time.”
During his stay on death row in Alabama, there were 54 executed prisoners and then there were the ones that decided to commit suicide. Per the Death Penalty Information Center, since July 2002, Alabama has decided to use lethal injection as the primary source of execution along with other states.
Hinton attributed his survival to his faith in God, “My faith teaches me that God may not come when you want him,” he says, but “he always on time.”
Ken Ireland was another prisoner who was exonerated due to DNA, that happened to prove his innocence just 21 years after being arrested for the rape and murder of a woman in Connecticut who was a mother to four. However, Ireland’s stay in prison did have its effects on him. He explained to Pelley that he would sometimes remain in a walk-in closet because he was fearful that someone would decide to come and take him back to prison. He also encountered some post-prison issues, “It’s sort of like waking up from a coma, it really is. I went in a coma in 1988 when, you know, cars were square and, you know, you had rotary phones. Now, you’ve got the entire knowledge of mankind ever in this little cell phone that you carry in your pocket with you.”
There are many other innocent people who are still in prison. An effort needs to be made to not only supply them with restitution but also a detailed explanation of how they were wronged by the criminal justice system.