Me, I Have to Live

by
Abby Zimet

Anthony Graves was released in 2010 after serving 18 years in a Texas prison - 12 on Death Row, over four in solitary confinement, with two execution dates postponed - for a 1992 murder he didn't commit. Unbitter about having been so long "exposed to the underbelly of the beast," he was awarded $1.45 million; he spent some on himself, his mother, and a foundation to help at-risk kids whose parents are in prison, and spoke at public events on the issue. This week, he also established a law scholarship fund at the University of Texas Law School Foundation in the name of Nicole Cásarez, the Houston attorney and journalism professor - his "defender, friend, sister and angel" - who fought along with her students for eight years to free him. His act comes as Texas prisons face a new lawsuit over extreme heat that his killed inmates - even though the prisons keep air-conditioned barns for pigs slated for slaughter. Graves is the 12th person since 1973 to be exonerated from Texas' death row, and the 139th in the country. When Cásarez came to tell him about his release, she cited his belief from earlier, harder times that "God is good." So too, sometimes, are lawyers doing what's right.

The scholarship is "to encourage others to follow (Cásarez') example of hope, perseverance, courage and humility....Never understimate the power of dedicated people working for good."

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