By Allison Johnson
Blog Content Contributor
On October 10th, Anthony Graves spoke at Evans Auditorium about his experience on death row for a crime he had not committed. It was a normal day for Anthony Graves when someone told him the police were looking for him. He went to the authorities to ask about what was going on, and there it happened; he was arrested for a crime he had nothing to do with. And not just any crime, capital murder.
I can’t even imagine being arrested, let alone, being arrested for a crime I did not commit. Towards the end of his speech, he held a platform for questions. Many questions were made up of two themes. The first being how did Graves stay hopeful the whole time he was incarcerated; his reply was knowing that God is good.
Anthony Graves could have come out of prison with a hateful heart. I know if someone would have taken away 18 years of my life including my loved ones’, I would be seeking all kinds of revenge. Graves was the exact opposite. He went through hell and back trying to prove his innocence, yet his faith was not broken. After all he went through, Graves stayed faithful to Jesus, knowing this was happening for a reason.
I do agree, that things happen for peculiar reasons. Maybe this reason was to bring awareness. I know God brings his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. God saw something special in Graves. This brings me to the theme of the second question. Many college students asked how to get involved in improving our justice system.
Graves first advice was to vote. He reminded us that our leaders work for us. We have a voice, and we need to use it. As for fixing the problem, let’s think of it this way. In my business law class, my professor always lectures about how to study for his exams, and really understand the cases. A strategy we use to study is to read a case, and rewrite the facts. When you rewrite the facts, and determine an outcome, you become the judge. And this brings me to something Graves brought up.
Graves wants to see high school students learning more about the criminal justice system. He said it first starts with knowing your rights. He then talked about mock trials and I loved that idea. It tied into our study method for business law, which is basically knowing the facts, and becoming the judge or jury. When you are the judge, it’s your duty to be just. To make a difference, we need to know where the system fails our society.
My dual-history class junior year participated in a mock trial. My teacher split us up into teams, and we all acted as someone in the courtroom. From a lawyer, judge, or jury, we did it all. The mock trial allowed us to put our biases aside, and to get down to the facts, and only the facts. Teaching people while they’re young about the injustices people face, will only bring us to be more aware about what innocent people are going through.
It’s a step forward to getting involved. Graves told us a lot about the gist of the case, but if you’d like to know more of the emotions he went through, reading his book would be a good idea. Watching footage of him being arrested, and freed for a crime he did not commit brought many of us to tears. The standing ovation at the end of his speech was a reflection of how much everyone was moved.
Featured image via Texas State Common Experience.