- June 18, 2020
GLENN FORD 1
This paper will investigate the details of the arrest, charging,sentencing, and the exoneration of . The importance ofFord’s case in the discourse over the racial disparities in theincarceration rates in the American criminal justice system will alsobe investigated. Articles reporting about Ford`s case, as well asthose exploring about the racial disparities among persons arrested,charged, and convicted for various reasons in America will providethe required information to complete this research paper. Ford wasan African American man who was wrongfully convicted of the murder ofa jewelry shop owner named Isadore Rozeman. The inability to hireskilled lawyers resulted in him being assigned inexperienced andunderfunded lawyers who did a shoddy job in developing a strongdefense to prove his innocence. Additionally, the prosecutor in thecase ensured that no member of the jury was African American. Thispaper has demonstrated that racial discrimination exists in everycomponent of the criminal justice system in America. This paperconcludes that Ford’s case is one of the many examples that showhow the minorities are disproportionately arrested, charged, andconvicted for lengthy jail terms compared to their whitecounterparts. The results of this paper can be used to address theissue of racial discrimination against the minorities that involvethe police, prosecutors, and judges.
was born on October 29, 1949, in Shreveport, Louisiana anddied on June 29, 2015. He was found guilty of the murder of Mr.Isadore Rozeman in 1984 but was exonerated in 2013. At the time ofhis release from Louisiana State’s Angola Penitentiary, no otherdeath row inmate had ever served more years before being fullyexonerated while still alive in the United States than him (Harris,2015). This paper will explore the situation that resulted in GlenFord being arrested and staying in prison for 29 years in addition tothe issue of racial disparities in the incarceration rates in theUnited States.
On November 5, 1983, a 58-year-old man named Isadore Rozeman wasfound dead in his jewelry store by officers from the Shreveportpolice department. Dr. A.R Ibrahim had called the police after hediscovered that the jewelry shop owned by Rozeman appeared to be indisarray (Harris, 2015). Upon arrival, the Shreveport policediscovered that Rozeman’s corpse had a gun wound at the back of thehead and which had resulted in his death. Some eyewitnesses said thatthey had seen him around the shop at the time of the killing of Mr.Rozeman. He was then seen in the company of two brothers, Henry andJake Robinson after the crime and in possession of some goods stolenfrom the jewelry shop. At the time, he had a .22 caliber pistol thatbelonged to Jake Robinson. A friend of also testifiedduring his trial that he saw him with a .38 pistol in his waistbandthe morning he was accused of having killed Mr. Rozeman. Theinvestigators had come to a conclusion that the same caliber bulletwas responsible for the murder of Rozeman. Additionally, the initialinvestigation of the crime scene had led the police into believingthat the person who had fired the bullet that killed Mr. Rozeman wasleft-handed. At the beginning, the police could not locate any pieceof evidence linking Ford to the crime scene. While still searchingfor evidence, the investigators discovered that Ford’s left handhad a gunshot wound. This resulted in his arrest. Later, the policefound Henry Robinson with some of the stolen goods. Additionally,they found a receipt from a pawn shop that had ’s name.The date on the receipts was the same day Mr. Rozeman was killed(Harris, 2015).
The State assigned two attorneys to during his trial sincehe could not afford to pay a lawyer. The two attorneys assigned tohim were selected from a list that had the names of all lawyers fromthe local bar association arranged alphabetically (Harris, 2015). Theperson selected to be the lead lawyer in the team that was to defendFord had specialized in oil and gas cases. He had not handled acriminal trial in front of the jury before Ford`s. The second lawyerhad only two years of experience since leaving the law school. Beforebeing assigned to Ford’s case, the second lawyer was working at aninsurance firm where he was handling slips and fall cases. Theprosecutor took advantage of the inexperienced nature of Ford’slegal team to suppress any evidence that could have exonerated him.Additionally, he made sure that no African American was allowed onthe jury team that heard the case. This resulted in the trial beingheard by a judge and a jury team that comprised of 12 Caucasians.Ford was found guilty of the murder of Mr. Rozeman even if no murderweapon linked him to the scene of the crime (Harris, 2015).
The prosecutor relied on eyewitness testimonies to convict Mr. Fordwith the crime of murder. One of the primary witnesses used by theprosecutor was a girlfriend to one of the other three suspectscharged alongside Mr. Ford The credibility of the lady`s testimonywas demonstrably challenged during the trial, and she even admittedto lying. In August 1988, Ford was convicted to death byelectrocution, which was to take place at Louisiana State’s AngolaPenitentiary (Harris, 2015).
At the time of his arrest, had drug problems however, hehad no history of ever being violent. Additionally, he cooperatedwith the police investigators from the beginning to the end. Heacknowledged that he had handled the goods stolen from the jewelryshop as they were given to him by the other accused men. Also, headmitted to pawning them, but refuted the claims that he was presentduring the robbery in Mr. Rozeman’s shop that also resulted in themurder of the latter (Harris, 2015).
In 2000, a Louisiana Supreme Court judge ordered the hearing ofFord`s argument that the prosecutors suppressed the evidence thatcould have linked Henry and Jake Robinson to the crime. In 2007, theInnocence Project, which is a national organization dedicated tooffering legal services to wrongly convicted offenders filed a briefto have Ford’s sentence overruled on his behalf. The InnocentProject’s lawyers argued that the testimony used to vindicate himwas unreliable and baseless. They also argued that his lawyers wereincompetent in addition to having been denied adequate resources thatwould have enabled them to develop a strong defense capable ofexonerating Mr. Ford (Weber, 2015).
In 2013, the Louisiana District Court was told by an unidentifiedinformant that Jake Robinson had confessed to killing Rozeman. Theconfidential information was provided to Dale G. Cox, who worked asan assistant district attorney. Mr. Cox argued that he received theinformation about Ford’s innocence while interviewing an informantconcerning a different murder case. Mr. Cox could not identify theinformant however, the information provided by the latter wasinvestigated and deemed impeccable. By the time the new evidence thatpointed to Henry and Jake Robinson being responsible for the murderof Mr. Rozeman was being discovered, the two were serving jail termsfor different violent crimes (Weber, 2015).
This information triggered ’s lawyers to file a motion tovacate his sentence in March 2014. The lawyers argued that there wasimpeccable evidence which showed that he was not present nor did heparticipate in any way in the robbery at Mr. Rozeman’s jewelryshop. This argument convinced the Louisiana’s State DistrictCourt’s Judge Emanuel Ramona to overrule the conviction of GlennFord the same month the latter’s lawyers filed the motion to vacatehis sentence (Weber, 2015). At the time of his release, had stayed in prison for 29 years, three months and five days. Fordspent most of his time behind the bar in solitary confinement (Weber,2015).
Marty A.M. Stroud III, the lead prosecutor during the `strial, expressed his deepest sympathy when he learned that he hadresulted in the conviction of an innocent man. According to StroudIII, Mr. Ford was subjected to unfair trial. This is because crucialevidence was suppressed by both the prosecutor and the police (Weber,2015). Additionally, Ford’s lawyers were not skilled in matters ofcriminal law to prepare for a proper defense. In addition to beinginept in criminal cases, Mr. Ford`s lawyers were not availed withenough financial resources to defend him. Mr. Stroud III said thathad he executed his duty properly during the trial, all the crucialevidence could have been availed to the necessary persons. He alsosaid that if the prosecutor and the police had collected and analyzedall the available evidence, they could not have arrested Ford letalone charge him with the crime of murder (Weber, 2015).
In his letter that was published in The Shreveport newspaper, StroudIII apologized to Mr. Ford for the misery he had caused him as wellas his family. He also apologized to Mr. Rozeman’s family forgiving them hope that the person responsible for the murder of theirloved one paid for his heinous acts (Weber, 2015). Mr. Stroud alsosent his apologies to the members of the jury for not disclosing tothem information that would have enabled them to make a betterjudgment of Mr. Ford’s case. He directed his last apologies to thecourt for what he termed as his failure to execute his duty morediligently as he never properly disclosed any exculpatory evidencethat could have helped the defense team prepare for the trial. StroudIII ended his letter by saying that he was sobered by the realizationthat he certainly did not deserve any mercy. Although Stroud IIapologized to Ford in person when the two met, the latter said thathe could never forgive him (Weber, 2015).
Life after release from prison
Immediately Ford was released from prison, he was found to besuffering from lung cancer stage three. Upon release, the lung cancerprogressed to level four and spread to his spine, lymph nodesimmediately after his exoneration. Ford filed a case against prisonofficials and medical authorities at the Angola Penitentiary whom heaccused of denying him treatment despite knowing that he had cancer(Weber, 2015).He was admitted at Home Hospice Care where a groupof staff volunteers, and one of them was John Thompson catered forhis needs. Thompson, who runs an organization that helps exoneratedprisoner was also wrongly accused before being found innocent. Afterhis release, Ford was surviving on donations from well-wishers. GlennFord was declared missing on April 22, 2015, following a hasty changein his mental state. He was discovered by the police the followingday bloodied and without a recollection of what had transpired duringhis disappearance. He succumbed to lung cancer complications on June29, 2015, while still under Home Hospice Care (Weber, 2015).
When he was released from the Angola Penitentiary, Ford was given$24 as a bus fare. He was never compensated for his unjustincarceration. Under the Louisiana law, he was supposed to get acompensation of $313, 000. However, the Louisiana law had set twoconditions that a wrongfully convicted prisoner must fulfill beforehe/she receive the compensations. First, a person seekingcompensation must have his/her conviction reversed or vacated.Secondly, the freed person must clearly and convincingly demonstratethat he/she was factually innocent of the crime for which he/she wasconvicted for. According to Wellborn (2015), at the time Ford wasfiling the petition to be paid for wrongful conviction, 41individuals had applied for the compensation since 2005 when the newLouisiana Revised Status law was enacted. Out of the 41 people, sixwere denied while 26 others were awarded the compensation (Welborn,2015). The remaining nine persons, including Ford had a pending case. According to the Statute, upon certifying the two conditions it setsfor people seeking compensation, one is awarded a payment of $25,000for every year of wrongful incarceration. However, the amount to becompensated to a person should not exceed $250,000 and is paid over aperiod of 10 years. The Statute also provides for an additionalpayment of $80,000 to the exonerated ex-convict that is supposed toserve as compensation for the loss of life opportunities (Welborn,2015).
When Ford’s legal team petitioned the Louisiana State to make thecompensation, the judge denied him the funds. The judge argued thatit was possible that Ford played some role during the commission ofthe crime he was charged with since some of the stolen goods werefound in his possession during his arrest. Additionally, the judgeheld that Ford had information that a robbery was about to happen butdid not inform the relevant authority. Also, the judge maintainedthat Ford tried to conceal the evidence of the crime as seen by hisefforts to pawn some of the stolen merchandise (Welborn, 2015). EvenMr. Cox, who played a huge role in ensuring the release of Mr. Fordagreed with Judge Katherine Dorroh’s argument that he did notdeserve any compensation because he did not have clean hands in themurder of Mr. Rozeman. Even today, there is a civil proceeding thatseeks to compel Louisiana State to compensate Mr. Ford for hiswrongful conviction (Welborn, 2015).
The relevance of Mr. Ford’s case in the wider discourse over theracial discrimination against the minorities in the American criminaljustice system
The Innocent Project reported that was the 144thperson in the death row to be cleared of any wrongdoing and the 10thin Louisiana State (Welborn, 2015). According to the American CivilLiberties Union (2016), since 1973, more than 140 death row inmateshave been exonerated in 26 states across America. The issue of thedeath penalty and wrongful convictions affects mainly individualsfrom the minority races. For example, the American Civil LibertiesUnion (2016) reports that “52% of the 4,220 death row inmatesexecuted from 1930 to 1996 were black.” Just like Ford`s case, thepoor are unable to afford proper legal representation, and thisincreases their chances of being found guilty even for crimes theydid not commit. On the other hand, the rich can afford adequateresources to collect all the available evidence to aid their legalteam in developing a strong defense, and this decreases the chancesof a wealthy person being wrongfully convicted.According to Mauer (2011), in 1954, during the historic Brown v.Board of education’s decision, approximately 100,000 blacks wereimprisoned in American jails and prisons. The decision served toenhance the opportunities available to people of minority races,particularly the African Americans. However, despite their sustainedprogress since the 1954 Supreme Court’s decision, the number ofAfrican Americans incarcerated in the American prisons has risen from100,000 to about 900,000 in 2009 (Mauer, 2011).
It is clearthat the African Americans are disproportionatelyrepresented in the American criminal justice systems According toMauer (2011) if the current racial disparities in arrests andincarceration rates continue one in every three African American andone in six Latino males born today will end upon serving a prisonsentence in their lifetime. On the other hand, only one in every 17white males born today can expect to spend some time in prison in hislifetime (Mauer, 2011). Besides, according to Mauer (2011), AfricanAmericans comprised 39% of persons arrested for property offenses in2009. This arrest rates among the blacks are high considering thatthe African Americans comprises only 12% of the overall generalpopulation in America (Mauer, 2011). There are also racialdisparities in the incarceration rates in women, although the figuresare relatively lower. For example, one in every 18 black females andone in every 45 Hispanic females can expect to spend some time behindbars in her lifetime. On the other hand, only one in every 111 whitefemales can expect to go to prison in her lifetime (Mauer, 2011).
The problem of racial discrimination against the minorities can alsobe seen in the police arrests and searches. Studies show that theminorities have higher chances of being arrested. Even though thedata indicate that the police stop the Hispanic, black, and whitedrivers at similar rates, the African Americans motorist had 2.5times higher chances of being by the police compared to their whitecounterparts(Mauer, 2011). Previous studies have also shown thatthe African Americans are likely to be arrested, even when theevidence against them is insufficient. On the other hand, the whitesare arrested only when the police have adequate evidence to chargethem with a crime(Mauer, 2011).
Racial disparities can also be seen in the decision to prosecute andwhether or not to pursue the severest charge against an arrestedperson. However, little data is available about the processingoutcomes at the prosecutorial level. This is because the prosecutorsoperate in a country or a city level, hence they are not obligated toreport any data to a nationwide agency(Mauer 2011). Sometimes prosecutors succumb to pressurecoming from politicians and the public to do everything they can tohelp the police address the issue of crimes in their jurisdiction.When they receive such pressure, prosecutors rely significantly onracial profiling to decide whether a person is guilty or not. Mauer(2011) gives an example of prosecutorial misconductthat resulted in almost a third of all black male population is thesmall town of Tulia in Texas being charged with drug-related crimeseven though many of the convictions were later reversed. Mauer(2011) cites the work of Chicago Tribune reporters whofound that prosecutors across the country have violated the law andtheir oath as some of them tend to hide evidence that the realcriminals were white only to end up with innocent African Americanmen in prisons (Mauer,2011). The United States Sentencing Commissionconducted a study that revealed that prosecutors are more likely tooffer white defendants a negotiated plea that is below the mandatoryminimum compared to Latinos and African American defendants(Mauer, 2011).
More so, the sentencing records show that the minorities are givenlengthy jail terms compared to their white counterparts. Otherfactors that also play a crucial role in determining the sentencesoffered to the defendant apart from the available evidence includethe race of the victim. According toMauer (2011), a person found guilty of killing a whiteperson has four times higher chances of facing death sentencecompared to when the victim is African Americans. One of the issueswhere racial profiling has had detrimental effects on the minorityraces is the war on drugs. The number of drug arrests rose from581,000 in 1980 to 1, 6663,000 in 2009(Mauer, 2011). Similarly, the number ofAfrican-American arrested for drug-related offenses increased from21% in 1980 to 34% in 2009(Mauer, 2011). This rate of the drug arrests among thewhites is disproportionate considering their number in the nationalpopulation. Additionally, although there is no comprehensive data onthe number of people selling and consuming drugs in terms of racialdistribution self-report surveys show that Whites deal with drugs asmuch or more than blacks. However, when it comes to arrests andsentencing for drug-related offenses, it is the blacks that comprisethe largest number of persons charged and convicted for the majorityof illicit substances-related charges (Mauer,2011).
Inconclusion, was an African American manconvicted of the murder of Isadore Rozeman and given a deathsentence. He worked as Mr. Rozeman’s yard man. Mr. Rozeman was ajewelry owner who was murdered on November 5, 1983. The Shreveportpolice learned about the incident after they were called by Dr. A.RIbrahim, who noticed that Mr. Rozeman’s shop seemed in disarray.Some eyewitnesses linked Mr. to the crime scene when theysaid that they had seen him around the jewelry shop at the time ofthe murder. This initiated an investigation on Mr. Ford residence,but the police could not find anything that would link him to thescene of crime. Initially, Ford was charged alongside two brothersHenry and Jake Robinson, but the two were found not guilty of thecrime of the murder of Mr. Rozeman. An eyewitness who testifiedduring Ford’s trial said that he saw him with a .22 caliber pistolthe morning that Mr. Rozeman was murdered. A receipt was also foundthat showed that Ford tried to sell the stolen merchandise at a pawnshop. The state of Louisiana appointed two inexperienced lawyers whoalso had no adequate resources to defend Mr. Ford. In addition tosuppressing the evidence that could have helped Ford’s legal teamdevelop a strong defense, the prosecutor ensured that all members ofthe jury were Caucasians. Consequently, Ford was found guilty of thecrime of murder and given a death sentence. However, after severalyears of failed attempts to have him exonerated of the charged, Mr.Ford was finally set free in 2014after he had served 29 years in thedeath row. He was not compensated after the Louisiana District Courtjudge argued that he had a hand in the commission of the robbery atMr. Rozeman’s shop as he was found with some of the stolen goods.Mr. Ford’s case points to the widespread racial disparities inarrest, charging, and sentencing in the American criminal justicesystem. People from the minority races are disproportionatelyarrested, charged, and sentenced to lengthy jail terms compared tothe whites.
AmericanCivil Liberties Union. (2016). The case against the death penalty.Accessed on November 26, 2016.https://www.aclu.org/other/case-against-death-penalty
Harris, D. (2015). Exonerated death row inmate meets the formerprosecutor who put him there. Accessed on November 26, 2016.http://abcnews.go.com/US/exonerated-death-row-inmate-meets-prosecutor-put/story?id=30399619
Mauer, M.(2011). Addressing racial disparities in incarceration. ThePrison Journal, 91(3),87S-101S.
Weber, B. (2015). , death row prisoner, freed after 29years, dies at age 65. Accessed on November 26, 2016.http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/03/us/glenn-ford-spared-death-row-dies-at-65.html?_r=0
Welborn, V. (2015). La. fights pay for a man wrongfully convicted ofmurder. Accessed on November 26, 2016.http://www.tulanelink.com/stories/glenn_ford_15b.htm