I have covered countless wrongful convictions in nearly two decades of work as a legal analyst but I don’t think that any case, any cause, ever touched me the way the Glenn Ford story did. Here was a man, an uneducated black man in the South, who was railroaded into a murder conviction and death sentence. He then was left to languish in solitary confinement for decades in one of the most despicable prisons on Earth, and then upon his belated release denied the compensation he was owed by the state of Louisiana, by some of the very officials who allowed his false conviction and sentence to fester for 30 years in the first place.
Here was a man, a petty thief, whose long-ago trial was a travesty upon justice, whose lung cancer likely was left untreated, or mistreated, while he was in confinement, so much so that he lived only a few months as a free man before succumbing to the disease. In the end, adding insult to injury, Louisiana officials decided just to wait him out, and watch him die, without having to pay him restitution for all those decades locked alone in a cell. Why? Because they say he could not prove that he did not commit a petty crime the state never charged him with 30 years ago. Now that Glenn Ford is gone his family is left to pursue those claims; if there is any justice in the world they will prevail.
But the Ford case reminds us of how little justice exists in Louisiana, then, and now. On Sunday night, my colleagues at 60 Minutes broadcast a wrenching segment on the Ford story [watch below]. You should take 15 minutes out of your day to watch it. Correspondent Bill Whitaker interviewed Ford just weeks before he died, penniless, of the cancer that ravaged him. Whitaker also talked to the former prosecutor, Marty Stroud, who put Ford on death row and later came to regret it, and talked, too, to Dale Cox, the current prosecutor of Caddo Parish, the man who helped get Ford free then fought to deny him the money he is owed.
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Source: Brennan Center for Justice, Andrew Cohen, October 15, 2015
(Right click on video and select "Show All" to adjust picture and show controls)
"30 Years on Death Row" aired on October 11, 2015 - There may be no greater miscarriage of justice than to wrongfully convict a person of murder and sentence him to death. But that's exactly what happened to Glenn Ford. He spent nearly 30 years on death row, in solitary confinement, in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison until new evidence revealed he did not commit the murder.
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