A death row inmate spent 30 years – almost half of his life – in a southern penitentiary for a crime he was innocent of. Louisiana's longest-serving death row prisoner, Glenn Ford, walked free Tuesday after being exonerated for a murder he never committed.
The 64-year-old Ford spoke with reporters outside the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, happy to be free but lamenting a life wasted behind bars.
“My sons – when I left – was babies. Now they grown men with babies,” Ford said. “My mind's going all kinds of directions, but it feels good.”
When asked if he harbors any resentment, Ford said of course he did. “Yeah, because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn't do,” the former death row prisoner said. “Thirty years of my life, if not all of it; I can't go back.”
Ford was found guilty of the November 1983 slaying of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker for whom Ford did occasional odd jobs. Jailed since 1984, Ford was ordered released Monday by a judge after new evidence came to light, thanks in part to the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.
New information presented to the court corroborated what Ford had said all along – that he had nothing to do with the murder, and he wasn’t even present at the scene.
CBS News picks up the story:
There were many troubling flaws in the case, as The Atlantic has reported in detail. Ford was initially implicated in Rozeman's killing by a woman named Marvella Brown who later testified she had lied. Brown was the girlfriend of a man named Jake Robinson, whom Ford had identified as a suspect in the murder in the early stages of the investigation. Robinson's brother, Henry, was also implicated by Ford. The two were charged, but later had those charges dismissed.
“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 Ford's attorneys Gary Clements and Aaron Novod in a prepared statement.
“I can't go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40, stuff like that,” Ford said.
“After 30 years, Louisiana's longest-serving death row prisoner will get his freedom soon,” Amnesty International USA senior campaigner Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris said in a statement shortly before his 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,” McHarris said.