Louisiana man, Glenn Ford, spent nearly three decades behind bars on death row for a crime he did not commit before walking free earlier this week.
“My sons — when I left — was babies,” the 64-year-old told reporters outside the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola upon his release on Tuesday.
“Now they grown men with babies.”
One of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the country, Ford was convicted by an all-white jury of first-degree murder and sentenced to death by electrocution in the 1983 robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman. Ford had done occasional yard work at the 56-year-old watchmaker’s jewelry shop.
According to Reuters, Ford maintained his innocence while imprisoned and filed multiple appeals, most of which were denied. Ford’s attorney’s Gary Clements and Aaron Novod have argued that his trial was weakened by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional withholding of evidence related to Jake and Henry Robinson, two brothers initially linked to the crime.
The Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana revealed that new “credible evidence” came to their attention in late 2013. The information–an admission of guilt from another man–verified Ford’s claim that he was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder.
A judge in Shreveport ruled that Ford be freed from Louisiana State Penitentiary Monday after prosecutors appealed for his release.
“Words can’t really express it but it’s a wonderful day and we’ve been working on this for decades literally so we hope that it will be the first day for Glenn to start a new life,” said his attorney Clements.
Amnesty International USA also circulated a brief statement shortly before Ford’s release.
“Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is,” senior campaigner Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris wrote.
“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.”
The Death Penalty Information Center reports that Ford is the 144th exonerated prisoner to be released from death row in the U.S. since 1973, and the 10th such instance in Louisiana.
Louisiana will also have to compensate Ford financially, according to the Innocence Project. The state must reportedly pay wrongfully incarcerated individuals $25,000 for each year in prison with a cap of $250,000. Wrongfully convicted individuals can also receive an additional $80,000 for loss of life opportunities. Yet, money cannot buy back time already spent.
At his release, one reporter asked Ford whether he felt any resentment.
“Yeah, because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do,” said Ford, WAFB reported.
“Thirty years of my life, if not all of it. I can’t go back.”