Wrongfully Convicted Louisiana Man Glenn Ford Freed from Prison after 30 Years on Death Row
A black man convicted by an all-white jury of a murder he did not commit walked out of a Louisiana state prison a free man on Tuesday after spending 30 years on death row.
Glenn Ford, 64, of Caddo Parish left the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola after Caddo Parish District Judge Ramona Emanuel signed an order vacating his first-degree murder conviction and death sentence, WAFB reported. Ford was Louisiana’s longest-serving death row inmate.
According to Judge Emanuel’s release order, “credible evidence” emerged late last year “supporting a finding that Glenn Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman.” Prosecutors would not discuss the new evidence out of fear it may harm their case against the actual killer.
“If the information had been within the knowledge of the state, Glenn Ford might not even have been arrested or indicted for this offense,” the order stated.
Ford was sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of Shreveport jeweler Isadore Rozeman. No murder weapon was ever found and there were no witnesses. As The Atlantic extensively reported, Ford was originally implicated by a witness who later admitted she lied. Ford’s court-appointed attorneys had never before defended a murder case, and he was convicted by an all-white jury, which recommended a sentence of death.
“His trial was profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence at his trial, including information from an informant, a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime, and evidence of the murder weapon, which implicated the true perpetrator,” stated a press release from Squire Sanders LLP, the firm currently representing Ford.
Two other co-defendants, Jake Robinson, the brother of the state’s witness who lied on the stand, and his brother Henry, had the charges against them dropped following Ford’s conviction. In 2013, prosecutors notified Ford’s lawyers that “a confidential informant for the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office stated that Jake Robinson told him that he, not Mr. Ford, shot and killed Isadore Rozeman,” CBS News reported.
When asked how he felt to finally be free again for the first time in 30 years, Ford told WAFB that he felt “good.”
“My mind’s going all different kinds of directions, but it feels good,” he said as he left Angola prison.
Under Louisiana state law, Ford is entitled to significant compensation due to his wrongful conviction. Individuals who are exonerated are entitled to $25,000 per year of wrongful incarceration, but only up to a limit of $250,000. He is also eligible to receive as much as $80,000 for loss of “life opportunities.”
When Ford entered prison, Ronald Reagan was still serving his first presidential term. A gallon of gas cost $1.20, the average new home cost $97,000, Madonna’s hit album “Like a Virgin” topped the Billboard charts, the Apple Macintosh personal computer was introduced and Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were all the rage.
The human rights group Amnesty International weighed in on Ford’s plight, calling the wrongfully convicted man “living proof of just how flawed our justice system really is.”
“We are more determined than ever to put an end to the death penalty, once and for all,” Amnesty International USA senior campaigner Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris said in a statement.