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Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction,…

Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 Years…

by Anthony Graves

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
One man's personal story of wrongful conviction, and the almost unbelievable circumstances that brought him to solitary confinement and death row. I consider Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson to be one of the best books on the troubling flaws of our justice system, and Infinite Hope is a powerful testimony to that reality. ( )
  Suzanne81 | Apr 10, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When I sat down to read this book, I was mesmerized and inhaled it in within a day – I can't remember when I last did this with a book. Graves' well written account of resilience and courage in the face of trumped up evidence that landed him on death row for most of his adult life was inspiring and fascinating. He endured the worst conditions the US has to offer and yet never gave up either his hope or his dignity.

Recommended for it's view of how our criminal justice system can go astray, especially for the black and poor.

I received a copy of this through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  streamsong | Aug 2, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
On August 18, 1992, in Somerville, Texas, a man named Robert Carter entered a trailer home and killed 6 people in cold blood, including his son. Then he set the trailer on fire to hide the evidence. 5 days later, at the funeral, he was noticed with burns and bandages on his hands. He was picked up by the police and because of the physical evidence(the burns) and inconsistencies of his story, they questioned him, he confessed and they charged him with murder. During the interrogation, he named Anthony Graves as his accomplice.

Graves was the second cousin of Carter's wife, but the two men didn't know each other. Despite no physical evidence tying him to the crime and an alibi, Graves was charged, tried and convicted. Graves would spend 18 years in jail, 12 of them on death row, before he was exonerated and went home a free man. Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Confinement and 12 years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul is Graves story, in his own words of how he got where he was and how he was able to hold out hope against hope that Justice would prevail.

When Graves was first arrested, he naively assumed, 'the truth would set him free.' Unfortunately, the Rangers and prosecutor working on his case didn't seem to be on a mission to uncover the truth or check into Graves's story. They sought instead to look for ways to trap him, get a confession, or find incriminating evidence. Thinking that he was helping himself, Graves went into interrogations and before a grand jury without a lawyer, assuming that if he was innocent, he didn't really need a lawyer to protect him. Unfortunately, a couple of careless answers were used to try to discredit his testimony at trial. When he was in his early 20s, Graves was arrested on a Marijuana possession charge but he was convinced by his lawyer at the time, to accept the prosecutors' plea bargain (a guilty plea for dealing cocaine, in exchange for 18 months probation). The same prosecutor, Charles Sebesta was now trying to prosecute Graves for murder.

Then he did get a lawyer. A family friend arranged for him to have one of the best trial lawyers in Texas, Dick DeGuerin. DeGuerin believed in Graves's innocence. But his fee was steep, and with no means for Graves or his family to pay him, DeGuerin abandoned Graves's case shortly after he was indicted. The lawyer that took Graves to trial, Calvin Garvin, was sincere but inexperienced.

Later, it was uncovered that Sebesta, the prosecutor, suppressed exculpatory evidence in Graves's trial (e.g. Carter had said to Sebesta the day before that Graves was not an accomplice and Sebesta pressured him to testify anyway without informing the defense), and intimidated Graves's alibi witness with a threat that he would charge her for murder too. When a special prosecutor reviewed Graves case (18 years later), she recommended the charges be dropped. And a couple of years after that, Sebesta was disbarred for ethics violations relating to Graves case.

Infinite Hope recounts the story of Graves arrest, trial, sentence, eventual exoneration and his current activism. Graves was buoyed through the hard times by family and friendships near and far—pen pals and visitors, who followed his case—and faith in a 'God who was good all the time.'

This is a hopeful story and it is a sad story. It is hopeful because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bent towards justice, even in a Texas capital case. It is a sad story because I want to believe that criminal investigators and DAs care more about justice than they do about getting a conviction. While the circumstances of Graves's case are certainly unique and represent an egregious miscarriage of justice, it is unfortunate justice is not as fair and blind as we would like to think. Confessions get coerced, and people get railroaded by the system (often people of color).

This book is a personal story. There are other books deal with prison reform and capital punishment from an ideological or sociological perspective. Graves says at one point that he hadn't really thought through his positions on the death penalty until he found himself on death row for a crime he didn't commit. That made the issue far less abstract. I give this book four stars.

Notice of material connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via librarything.com. In exchange for my honest review.
  Jamichuk | Jun 2, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Anthony Graves was arrested, tried and convicted of murder, while the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence. Graves flat clinical descriptions of his 18 years of life in jail and on death row did not inspire a feel-good admiration for his faith. But his narrative should raise righteous indignation against miscarriages of justice that even happen in progressive California. ( )
  Oporinus | May 9, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you have ever been wrongly accused of anything, you can easily relate to this first-hand account. Fortunately though, you will probably never find yourself tagged with something this serious. This man was accused of six murders he did not commit. The book is by a man who was frightfully wronged by a judicial system that sent him to death row. It happened in Texas, where the number of people executed since 1976 now exceeds 470.

Death by lethal injection came frightfully close for this author. Had it not been for journalist Pamela Colloff of Texas Monthly magazine, it is doubtful Graves would have been exonerated. He may well have been dead by now. Colhoff is credited for bringing to light the story of how the author in fact had nothing to do with the murders. For reasons never understood, another man who was fully responsible for the brutal crime claimed Graves helped with the killings and the 1992 torching of the house where it happened in Somerville, Texas.

It is painful to imagine how many other people have been convicted or even executed for murders they didn’t commit. Graves is one of the fortunate ones. He eventually received justice, and was awarded monetary compensation. The Anthony Graves Foundation was created with that money. The foundation is working to create a society in which these kinds of wrongs will hopefully be curtailed. It is nice to believe that in the future, no innocent person will ever be wrongfully executed.

The true account of Anthony Graves’ personal nightmare is expertly penned under the title Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul. Reading this compelling account may prompt you to like the Anthony Graves Foundation on Facebook and follow Anthony C. Graves on Twitter. This book is definitely worth the read for those who care about righting one of the wrongs in our American courts. ( )
  JamesBanzer | Apr 26, 2018 |
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"Written by a wrongfully convicted man who spent 16 years on death row and 12 years in solitary confinement, a powerful memoir about fighting for, and winning, exoneration. [This] is an argument against the death penalty through one man's personal story. It is about a man enduring a life on death row year after year, when he knows that he is one hundred percent innocent and that his exoneration is unlikely. Anthony Graves' unbelievable saga started in 1992 when, at 26 years old, he was arrested for killing six people in Somerville, Texas. Despite his air-tight alibi, his unwavering insistence that he had no knowledge of the crime, and a lack of physical evidence linking him to the scene, Graves was arrested, charged with capital murder, and eventually sentenced to death. He spent nearly two decades defending his innocence from behind bars. With the help of a hard-charging journalist, Graves' story of injustice and the astounding malfeasance he encountered at every turn was published in Texas Monthly. In 2011, eighteen years after his nightmare began, Graves was finally exonerated. The prosecutor in his case was later disbarred. Poignant and skillfully wrought, Graves writes about fighting for his dignity, trying to maintain his sanity, the excruciating reality of being innocent behind bars, and how he endured one setback after another as he and his lawyers chipped away at the state's case against him"--… (more)

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