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Committee doesn’t decide on Ray Hinton compensation for wrongful incarceration


By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

A Senate committee did not decide on a bill that would give Ray Hinton, a now ex-death row inmate, $1.5 million from the general budget despite the persistence of the bill’s sponsor Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman.

The senator has brought similar bills since Hinton’s release from death row in 2015 after spending 30 years on death row. The current version of the bill would spread out three payments of $500,000 over three years.

An Alabama court sentenced Hinton to death after they convicted him of two counts of capital murder in the 1980s.

Since his conviction, Hinton maintained his innocence and the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based non-profit, pursued Hinton’s appeal.

The foundation of Hinton’s argument was centered in the failure of his attorney to seek a firearms expert to show that the weapon used in the attack could not be matched to him. A Supreme Court decision granted Hinton another trial after his attorney was found to have not adequately pursued Hinton’s innocence in the case.

Hinton was released after the state of Alabama decided to drop the charges in the new trial citing that the physical evidence from the revolver could not be re-examined.

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Last year, a similar bill was met with resistance from the Attorney General’s Office, which maintains that Hinton was never proven innocent of the crimes.

James Houts, the assistant attorney general of Alabama, echoed similar sentiments at the public hearing by saying he still believes that Hinton should not receive compensation. He said that to say Hinton was exonerated was a “gross exaggeration.”

The bill was carried over at the call of the chair, which means that its chances of returning are up in the air. A similar appropriations bill was given a favorable report in 2017 but failed to make it on the Senate floor.

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