Glenn Ford, who was exonerated of murder early last year, passed away on Monday at the age of 65. A New Orleans judged ruled in March 2014 that new evidence revealed that Ford wasn’t at the scene of a 1983 robbery and murder for which he was wrongly convicted and served nearly 30 years in solitary confinement on death row. The
reports that Ford was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after his release from prison.
The tragedy of Ford’s case has been two-fold; not only was he denied three decades of freedom, but the last year of his life was spent challenging the state of Louisiana for compensation as he was battling Stage 4 lung cancer. In March, Innocence Project New Orleans Attorney Kristin Wenstrom filed a compensation claim on behalf of Ford, which highlighted not only the state’s responsibility to compensate Ford for his wrongful imprisonment, but also his dire financial situation which was exacerbated by his medical condition. In an article in the
New Orleans Advocate,
Wenstrom said, “I don’t know if there could be a clearer case where somebody is deserving of compensation. I mean, the man walked out of prison with nothing but the clothes on his back.” Ultimately, however, the state denied Ford compensation, claiming that he hadn’t proven his innocence.
In response to media coverage of Ford’s fight for compensation, many people donated to a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs and his family. The coverage of Ford’s case and the fundraising campaign brought much-needed attention to the injustice of wrongful convictions as well as the additional injustice that often follows exonerees out of prison as they are forced to fight to hold the state accountable.
Ford spent his last months surrounded by friends and family. Knowing that he had only a few months to live and that the state would not compensate him within that time, Ford used his story to move beyond himself, to pave the way for others to receive compensation more easily. The
writes that Ford’s attorney, William Most, said, “[Ford’s] legacy, in part, is the family that he has — his sons and some grandchildren. He also has the legacy of bringing awareness to the problems with America’s criminal punishment system.”
Donations can be made, in lieu of flowers, to
Resurrection after Exoneration