Innocent Black Man Freed After 30 Years on Death Row

By Julissa Catalan

Glenn Ford, a Louisiana native, walked out of the state penitentiary in Angola a free man after being on death row for more than 30 years for a crime he did not commit.

When asked by a CNN reporter, “How much of your life did you lose” Ford replied, “Thirty years of my life, if not all of it. I can’t go back. My sons, when I left, was babies. Now they’re grown men with babies.”

Ford was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery by an all-white jury for the killing of Isadore Rozeman, a 56-year-old watchmaker from Shreveport. Rozeman was found shot to death behind the counter of his shop.

Ford did occasional yard work for Rozeman.

“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, from the Capital Post Conviction Project in Louisiana.

For three decades Ford, now 63, has maintained his innocence. He even filed multiple appeals, most of which were denied.

Though the specifics regarding the evidence that warranted his release are unclear, it is known that in 2000, the Supreme Court of Louisiana ordered an evidentiary hearing based on Ford’s claim that the prosecution withheld evidence that implicated Jake and Henry Robinsontwo brothers initially suspected of committing the crime.

Ford’s defense attorneys argued that his trial was compromised by the “unconstitutional suppression of evidence and by inexperienced counsel.”

The Shreveport Times reports that court records show prosecutors received “creditable evidence” in 2013 that supported “a finding that Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman.”

The paper also suggests that an unidentified informant told prosecutors that Jake Robinson admitted to shooting and killing Rozeman that same year.

Ford, who had been held on death row since March 1985, is Louisiana’s longest-serving death-row prisoner and one of longest-serving prisoners in the entire country. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair.

In a statement read shortly before his release, Thenjiwe Tameila McHarris, Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International USA, said, “Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our 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.”

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