Glenn Ford Released After 30 Years On Death Row
Imagine spending 3 decades of your life locked in a small prison cell sitting on death row where your life is literally on the line all for something you didn’t do. That was the unfortunate position of Louisiana resident Glenn Ford. Mr. Ford was sentenced to the death penalty in the maximum security Angola Prison for the 1983 murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport, Louisiana jeweler and watchmaker for whom he did occasional yard work. All these years he always maintained his innocence and finally 30 years later the law does too. “My mind’s going all different kinds of directions, but it feels good,” he said a few moments after taking his first steps as a free man outside the Angola prison wearing a denim shirt, a skull-cap and dark-rimmed glasses.
An understandably upset Ford then said, “I’ve been locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do. I can’t go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40, stuff like that.” According to the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, a judge ordered that Ford be freed Monday after prosecutors petitioned the court to release him. The state’s motion to vacate Ford’s conviction was based on new information that corroborated his claim that he was not present or involved in the crime. Prosecutors would not detail the new evidence, saying it could jeopardize their future case against the actual killer. This story is the exact reason we need to abolish the death penalty which I wrote about in-depth not too long ago.
So How Did This Happen?
How is it possible that an innocent man was convicted of murder and sentenced to die? Just imagine for a moment the psychological terror associated with living on death row. You would think a man’s guilt would need to be proven without a shadow of a doubt to get something as permanent as the death penalty. Sadly, that’s not what happens all of the time. Lets look at some of what happened with this case and figure out to how we got to where we are.
The victim of the case Rozeman, who was 56 years old, was found shot to death behind the counter of his shop on Nov. 5, 1983. It was reported that no murder weapon was ever found and there were no eyewitnesses to the crime. There was a lot of head scratching flaws in the case presented as reported by The Atlantic. Ford was initially fingered for the crime by a woman who later recanted claiming she had lied. On top of that, his original court-appointed attorney had never tried a murder case before and the jury consisted of all white individuals. The African-American Ford was doomed from the start.
During appeals, Fords new legal team argued his trial was compromised by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence and by inexperienced counsel. New information corroborated what Ford had said all along, that he was not present at nor involved in the slaying. “We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free,” said Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, Ford’s current attorneys.
An Innocent Man Almost Died At Our Hands
Glenn Ford had been on death row since 1984 and was one of the longest serving death row inmates in the United States. Amnesty International USA spokesman Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris said in a statement a bit before Fords release “Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is. We are moved that Mr. Ford, an African-American man convicted by an all-white jury, will be able to leave death row a survivor.”
The kicker to me is this. Under Louisiana law, people who have served time but are then later exonerated are entitled to receive compensation, which is how it should be. Here is where it takes a nosedive. The law calls for payments of $25,000 per year of wrongful incarceration up to a maximum of $250,000, plus an additional $80,000 for the loss of “life opportunities.” In my honest opinion due to all the negligence, Ford should be getting all the money without any sort of cap. Why cap that anyway? I can guarantee the men who came up with that law didn’t spend 30 years of their life incarcerated for something they didn’t do. Louisiana, lift that fucking cap.
There will be a day sometime in the future where we will be able to prove with 100% certainty if someone is guilty or not of a crime. Until that day though, we need to get rid of the death penalty. Glenn Ford, an innocent man was knocking on death’s door because of mistakes made by our justice system. He was saved. What would be the consequences if he had been put to death, and then this new information that cleared him came to light? An apology? Some restitution? C’mon… The death penalty is not something that can be undone. There is no better example for it then this case. For what it’s worth, we say congratulations to Mr. Ford and the fact he is around to see this miscarriage corrected and hope his remaining years as a free man are filled with joy.
What do you think? We’d love to hear you sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!