I’m often angry to read about individuals convicted of crimes, sentenced to death, and later exonerated thanks to new evidence. I’m even more angry when I read about those who were wrongfully executed for their ‘crimes’, only to have evidence emerge years (sometimes decades) later that proves they didn’t do it.
Another case has just come out of Louisiana.
There are many ways to measure 30 years, but for Glenn Ford, the yardstick is simple.
“My sons — when I left — was babies. Now they grown men with babies,” he said, speaking as a free man for the first time in nearly three decades.
Ford, Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner, walked free Tuesday after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit.
“My mind’s going all kinds of directions, but it feels good,” Ford, 64, told reporters outside the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, according to CNN affiliate WAFB.
One reporter asked whether he harbors any resentment.
“Yeah, because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do,” said Ford, who wore a denim shirt, a hat and dark-rimmed glasses.
“Thirty years of my life, if not all of it,” he said, WAFB reported. “I can’t go back.”
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.
New information corroborated what Ford had said all along: that he was not present at nor involved in the November 5, 1983, slaying of Isadore Rozeman, the project said.
There’s more at the link.
Folks, I’m not opposed to the death penalty as such. When someone’s clearly, unambiguously, absolutely guilty of a capital offense, I’ll drop the hammer on him myself if necessary. However, with so many mistakes having occurred in the US justice system (to name but one example, the Innocence Project has helped to exonerate ‘312 wrongfully convicted people, including 18 on Death Row‘), it’s no longer possible for me in conscience to support this penalty being used. The execution of even one innocent person is too many – and there have been far more than that.
It’s time we took the death penalty off the table, and substituted imprisonment for the term of one’s natural life. That’s the only moral, ethical, honest thing to do until we can come up with a justice system that will no longer kill the wrong person, or imprison an innocent man like Mr. Ford for 30 years.
Even if they compensate Mr. Ford at the rate of a million dollars per year of wrongful imprisonment, he’ll never get his life back. I know something about Louisiana’s death row – I’ve visited the place ‘on business’ as a prison chaplain. It’s soul-chilling. Mr. Ford’s psyche will undoubtedly have suffered permanent damage through being there for so long. There’s no compensation in the world that can make up for that.