LOUISIANA (KSLA) - At one time, Glenn Ford was the longest serving death row inmate in the country. He was released from prison last year after local prosecutors said they had information clearing Ford of a 1983 murder of a Shreveport jeweler.
But, Ford's freedom was short lived. He died on Monday, 15 months after his release. A few months after his release he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. At the time of his death, he was fighting the state for $330,000 in compensation.
In an exclusive interview, national columnist and author Joyce King is joining the fight to change Louisiana's compensation laws. King was instrumental in changing the Texas compensation laws, making them more lucrative.
We spoke with Glenn Ford six weeks before his death, he told us it is important for people to know that he is innocent on killing Isadore Rozeman. He also talked about being faced with another death sentence when he was diagnosed with terminal Lung cancer.
In May 2015 Ford said, "I don't know if I have a long period or a short period of time."
The state of Louisiana denied Ford compensation because they claim Ford knew about a jewelry store robbery where the owner was killed. They said even though he did not pull the trigger, he did nothing to stop it.
Court documents filed on behalf of Ford by his attorney William Most claim a medical test revealed a cancer marker several years before Glenn was released from death row.
Most said, "Mr. Ford was denied an opportunity to see a cancer doctor while at Angola he asked over and over and he was told it was such a long waiting list."
Ford's attorneys told KSLA News 12 they will continue to fight on behalf of Glenn. King is joining the fight and she has even written about Louisiana's compensation laws which she calls "ridiculous."
King said, "I have urged officials to chunk it, throw it away, start over, write a completely different law."
According to Louisiana's compensation laws, if approved, Glenn would receive $25,000 for every year of incarceration. That amount is capped at $250,000. Another $80,000 is for loss of life opportunities. That's a total of $330,000.
King frowns on the cap amount of $250,000, saying a man who has spent more than 30 years in prison should get more than that. She also adds no money can replace the years wrongfully spent behind bars.
King was the first non-lawyer appointed to the Innocence Project of Texas. She was a part of the team in making Texas compensation better for exonerees. She helped push the Timothy Cole Compensation Law. Cole was accused of being the Texas Tech rapist and he died in prison before DNA cleared him of the crime. King would like to see Louisiana do the same thing Texas did for Tim Cole.
King said, "I also would like for Louisianians or a lawmaker to contact us and consider the Glenn Ford Compensation Law. If we are going to rewrite the law let's do it for a man that got denied compensation and let him have a legacy instead of this awful ending."
She has even suggested former Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Marty Stroud be the driving force behind the push. A few months before Ford's death, Stroud visited Ford at his home in New Orleans and apologized for his role in sending him to death row. Stroud admitted there was evidence back then that would have cleared Ford. At the time, Ford said he wished he could forgive Stroud, but he couldn't. He said the former DA took too much from him.
King said Stroud taking the lead on the compensation fight would allow him to write a legacy and give back even more to future exonerees.
She added, "I want not for Glenn Ford to die, but for him to die with more than just dignity, but or him to die with a legacy, a legacy that my state stepped up."
On Sunday, family and Friends will gather at Charbonnet Funeral Home in New Orleans for Glenn's memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to Resurrection After Exoneration, also known as RAE. The founder of RAE, John Thompson was instrumental in helping Glenn transition back into society. He provided Glenn with a place to stay and helped care for him up until his death.
Joyce King's book Exonerated: A Brief and Dangerous Freedom can be found here.