Darryl Hunt brings message of hope to Wrongful Convictions Clinic students

September 25, 2009Duke Law News

September 16, 2009 - Darryl Hunt was convicted of a rape and murder he did not commit and served 18 years in North Carolina prisons before he was released in 2003 based on new DNA evidence showing that another man committed the crimes. On Wednesday, Hunt shared his incredible story of perseverance with Wrongful Convictions Clinic students.

In a conversation with the 12-student seminar class, Hunt discussed his reactions to the events surrounding his wrongful conviction. Hunt told the students that he is still deeply affected by his time in prison, and that he is eager to raise awareness of the causes of wrongful convictions and help former inmates “break the cycle” of future imprisonment following release. He pursues these goals through the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, which is charged with “educating the public about flaws in the criminal justice system, advocating for those wrongfully incarcerated as a result of those flaws, and providing resources and support for those trying to rebuild their lives.”

Hunt’s message to the students was one of hope, as he insisted to the students that optimism, self-reflection and discipline have helped him maintain the belief that he would eventually be vindicated and released from prison and to avoid bitterness. “Above all,” Hunt explained, “you have to have faith in yourself before you can have faith in anything else.” Hunt echoed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and William Cullen Bryant: “Truth crushed to the earth shall rise again.”

Later that day, Hunt was a guest speaker at an event entitled “Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment”, sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center, the NC Coalition for a Moratorium, the Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, the Innocence Project at Duke Law School, and the Duke chapter of Amnesty International.